Faculty Advisor(s)

Amy J. Litterini

Document Type

Course Paper

Publication Date



© 2015 Ellen Forslund


Background and Purpose: The human body requires oxygen-rich blood to work efficiently. Respiratory failure occurs due to a lack of oxygen passing from the lungs into the bloodstream or if the lungs cannot remove carbon dioxide from the blood. The purpose of this case report was to describe the therapeutic exercise, functional endurance and gait training for an individual following acute respiratory failure (ARF) and (1) document the practicability of this therapeutic approach in an intensive inpatient rehabilitation setting, (2) record the outcomes that occurred for the patient, and (3) discuss the possibility for further research regarding a similar physical therapy (PT) approach for patients with ARF. Case Description: The patient was a middle-aged female, wheelchair bound due to rheumatoid arthritis in both knees upon admission into the rehabilitation medicine unit (RMU) due to ARF. She received PT for 30-150 minutes each day, 5-7 times per week, for 24 days focusing on therapeutic exercise, functional endurance, and gait training. Outcome measures included: manual muscle testing (MMT) to assess lower extremity (LE) strength; observational gait analysis; functional balance grades; timed standing tolerance; and Functional Independence Measure (FIM) to assess level of independence for transfers, stairs and locomotion. Outcomes: When comparing outcome measures from admission to discharge, the patient demonstrated a general improvement in bilateral LE strength, functional balance grades, timed standing tolerance, and FIM scores. She significantly improved gait function, exceeding her baseline distance before admission. Discussion: This case report documented the improved functional outcome measures following therapeutic exercise, functional endurance and gait training for a patient following ARF in the RMU. Future research is warranted to make any causal inferences on this therapeutic approach.


The case report poster for this paper can be found here:




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