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Nursing Interventions for Critically Ill Traumatic Brain Injury Patients

McNett, Molly M.; Gianakis, Anastasia

Journal of Neuroscience Nursing: April 2010 - Volume 42 - Issue 2 - p 71-77
doi: 10.1097/JNN.0b013e3181ce5b8a

Neuroscience intensive care unit (ICU) nurses deliver a number of interventions when caring for critically ill traumatic brain injury (TBI) patients. Yet, there is little research evidence documenting specific nursing interventions performed. As part of a larger study investigating ICU nurse judgments about secondary brain injury, ICU nurses were asked to identify interventions routinely performed when caring for TBI patients. Quantitative and qualitative analyses indicate that all nurses routinely monitored hemodynamic parameters such as oxygen saturation, blood pressure, and temperature. Nurses were responsible for monitoring intracranial pressure and cerebral perfusion pressure approximately 50% of the time. Qualitative analyses revealed that additional nursing interventions could be categorized as neurophysiological interventions, psychosocial interventions, injury prevention interventions, and interventions to maintain a therapeutic milieu. Findings from this study provide evidence of the multifaceted role of the neuroscience ICU nurse caring for TBI patients and can be used in future research investigating the impact of nursing interventions on patient outcomes.

Anastasia Gianakis, BSN RN CCRN, is a nurse manager at Neurosurgical, Spine, and Surgical Intensive Care Unit, MetroHealth Medical Center, Cleveland, OH.

Question or comments about this article may be directed to Molly M. McNett, PhD RN, at She is a senior nurse researcher at MetroHealth Medical Center, Cleveland, OH.

© 2010 American Association of Neuroscience Nurses