Nurse caring for stroke patients involves multitasking as the condition itself is quite complex and challenging. In this light, many nurses, ranging from staff nurses to more advanced clinicians such as Nurse Practitioners (NPs) and Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNSs) are directly involved in improving patient outcomes. NPs and CNSs are clinicians who have undertaken expert relevant educational programmes to postgraduate level. Thus, the role of these experts within the greater healthcare team is to improve standards of patient care within a higher level of accountability and professional autonomy. They also may devise and implement a personalised plan of care after an initial assessment.
Generally, nursing interventions during the acute stages following a stroke aim at preventing secondary brain injury (intracranial hypertension), maintaining the airways (due to paralysis of the pharynx muscles), providing general body support (vital signs, fluid and electrolyte balance) and anticipating the occurrence of complications (atelectasis, pneumonia). On admission to the ward, a general assessment of the patient’s condition should determine his/her baseline neurological status and appropriate positioning, whilst identification of level of consciousness should be carried out immediately, as it is one of the most sensitive indices of neurological status.
Previous research also shows that intensive nursing input has considerable potential to benefit stroke patients, especially in terms of well-being.