Older adults (≥age 65) admitted to an intensive care unit (ICU) are profoundly inactive during hospitalization. Older ICU survivors often experience life-changing symptoms, including cognitive dysfunction, physical impairment, and/or psychological distress, which are components of post–intensive care syndrome (PICS).


To explore trends between inactivity and symptoms of PICS in older ICU survivors.


This study was a secondary analysis of pooled data obtained from 2 primary, prospective, cross-sectional studies of older ICU survivors. After ICU discharge, 49 English- and Spanish-speaking participants who were functionally independent before admission and who had received mechanical ventilation while in the ICU were enrolled. Actigraphy was used to measure post-ICU hourly activity counts (12:00 AM to 11:59 PM). Selected instruments from the National Institutes of Health Toolbox and Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System were used to assess symptoms of PICS: cognitive dysfunction, physical impairment, and psychological distress.


Graphs illustrated trends between inactivity and greater symptom severity of PICS: participants who were less active tended to score worse than one standard deviation of the mean on each outcome. Greater daytime activity was concurrently observed with higher performances on cognitive and physical assessments and better scores on psychological measures.


Post-ICU inactivity may identify older ICU survivors who may be at risk for PICS and may guide future research interventions to mitigate symptom burden.

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