This article provides an overview of the utilization of ventricular assist devices (VADs), reviews the common features of VADs and management of VAD recipients, discusses clinical considerations in the rehabilitation process, and describes the role of the acute care physical therapist in the care of VAD recipients. With more than 5 million people in the United States with heart failure, and with a limited ability to manage the progressive and debilitating nature of heart failure, VADs are becoming more commonplace. In order to prescribe a comprehensive and effective plan of care, the physical therapist needs to understand the type and function of the VADs and the goals of the VAD program. The goals for the physical therapist are: (1) to deliver comprehensive rehabilitation services to patients on VAD support, (2) to develop an understanding of the role of functional mobility in recovery, and (3) to understand how preoperative physical function may contribute to the VAD selection process. The acute care physical therapist has an increasing role in providing a complex range of rehabilitation services, as well as serving as a well-educated resource to physical therapists across the health care spectrum, as more VAD recipients are living in the community.
The author acknowledges Dr Erik Sorensen for his constant resource of information as a bioengineer at the University of Maryland Medical Center, Dr Erika Feller for her commitment to enhancing the rehabilitation process for patients served by the VAD program at the University of Maryland Medical Center, and Dr Fran Huber for her editorial skills and professional recommendations.
- Received November 15, 2011.
- Accepted September 27, 2012.
- © 2013 American Physical Therapy Association