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​​​​​For many patients, life after intensive care includes trauma, nightmares


One intensive care unit patient recalled seeing waves of the open ocean and sensing that someone was underneath her bed at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas.

​Another patient, who was treated at a Fort Worth hospital, said she saw helicopters evacuating patients as a tornado approached.

For the two women, the memories were painful and vivid despite the fact that none of those things actually happened. They both appear to have suffered from post-intensive care syndrome (PICS), which is “made up of health problems that remain after critical illness,” according to the Society of Critical Care Medicine.

“They are present when the patient is in the ICU and may persist after the patient returns home,” according to the organization. “These problems can involve the patient’s body, thoughts, feelings, or mind and may affect the family. PICS may show up as an easily noticed drawn-out muscle weakness, known as ICU-acquired weakness; as problems with thinking and judgment, called cognitive (brain) dysfunction; and as other mental health problems.”

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