Telemedicine Provides Options For ICU Patients At Risk Of Dementia

Jun 9, 2017

Thousands of older Hoosiers end up in the intensive care unit (ICU) each year and a majority of them suffer from delirium.

Delirium is a severe brain failure and those who suffer from it are at higher risk for dementia. ICU stays put older people at risk of delirium.

Researchers are developing and testing the state’s first program to provide after care to these patients via telemedicine.

Dr. Babar Khan from the IU Center for Aging Research and Regenstrief Institute leads the study and says the project could impact many people.

“Before we die we will likely end up in the ICU, if we’re going to die from natural causes,” Khan says.

The study will examine how a combination of individualized physical therapy, cognitive training, or counseling – all delivered online – can help recovery.

Khan says the project may also help caregivers by assisting in the telemedicine delivery.

“In helping a patient do that and doing so, they will understand how to cope with the situation at home,” says Khan

Currently, there is no such model to treat conditions acquired after ICU. Telemedicine will reach patients who often have difficulty getting to appointments.

Khan says successful interventions can then be put to use much quicker than usual.

“They become ingrained in the systems of health care and then start providing these delivery services integrated into the system as soon as the study is done,” says Kahn.

The study will analyze 300 patients from three Indiana hospitals. It’s supported by a grant from the National Institute on Aging.