Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) of cardiorespiratory physical therapy interventions for adult in-patients with acute medical conditions were eligible for inclusion. RCTs with a crossover design were included. Studies with significant methodological and/or statistical problems and studies of postsurgical patients were excluded.
Cardiorespiratory physical therapy interventions included postural drainage, coughing, huffing, percussion, vibration, positioning, turning and hyperinflation. Studies evaluated physical therapy in a range of acute conditions (atelectasis, pneumonia, pneumothorax, pleural effusion, deep vein thrombosis, acute myocardial infarction and mechanically ventilated patients). Measured outcomes included pulmonary and cardiorespiratory measures, mortality and length of hospital stay.
Titles and abstracts were assessed by at least two reviewers; results from the Cochrane Library search were assessed by one reviewer.