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Michelle Kho

Michelle Kho

Canada Research Chair in Critical Care Rehabilitation and Knowledge Translation

Tier 2: 2013-07-01


School of Rehabilitation Science Profile | Critical Care Canada

Research involves

Using early in-bed cycling for mechanically ventilated patients while in the intensive care unit (ICU) to improve patient outcomes. 

Research relevance

This rehabilitation research will help improve function and quality of life for ICU survivors. 

CYCLE of Change in the ICU

Exercising in the Intensive Care Unit? It’s a concept that seems at odds with the typical ICU where recovery for the hospital’s sickest patients often means prolonged bed rest, sedation, and constant monitoring and support from specialized equipment.

But exercising critically ill patients might be ‘just what the doctor ordered’ – a remedy that’s at the heart of rehabilitation scientist Michelle Kho’s Canada Research Chair in Critical Care Rehabilitation and Knowledge Translation. Her research seeks a solution for the high cost of convalescence, not only in quality of life for ICU survivors, but the financial burden for the health care system, where critical care is our most costly hospital service.

As a practicing physiotherapist and researcher, Kho’s ‘lab’ is the ICU, where she works with highly specialized health care teams to help patients not only survive their life threatening illness or injury, but improve their recovery time and promote continued health and well-being once they leave intensive care. Kho’s research program –Critical Care Cycling to Improve Lower Extremity Strength (CYCLE) – focuses on preventing or reducing the adverse effects of immobilization by having patients pedal a motorized stationary bicycle affixed to their ICU bed.

Dr. Kho’s CYCLE rehabilitation regime targets ICU patients needing breathing machines in the very first week of critical care, when muscle strength in their legs can melt away by 15% or more.  By strengthening their muscles and their overall health, patients have a better chance of not only surviving their critical illness, but may be sent home sooner, stronger, and happier, not only benefitting the patient, but alleviating the high cost of critical care for our health care system.