The number of incidences of stroke is increasing in the UK. A stroke can result in long-term physiological and psychological concerns among patients. Stroke survivors need extra care and rehabilitation to lead normal lives.
There are over 100,000 strokes reported in the UK each year. The country has 1.2 million stroke survivors. It is the fourth leading cause of death in the UK.
It is also a leading cause of disability with over 60% of survivors being disabled. The estimated cost of care is about £1.7 billion per year.
With such a high impact, caring for stroke survivors is one of the critical roles that a registered nurse plays. As a nurse with the nursing agency in Boston, you are expected to have the skills and proficiencies to care for stroke survivors.
Before we discuss the care techniques for stroke survivors, let us first understand what a stroke is. A stroke occurs when the blood supply to the brain is cut off.
This could be due to a blockage in the blood vessels in the brain (ischaemic stroke) or due to bleeding in the brain (haemorrhagic stroke). About 15% of individuals who have suffered a haemorrhagic stroke are likely to die on the way to the hospital.
Stroke damage the brain and depending on the area of damage, the patients may experience weakness in limbs, problems in speech, hearing, understanding, and reading, swallowing concerns, bladder control, frequent headaches, fatigue, memory loss, vision problems, and numbness. Stroke leaves about two-thirds of the survivors disabled for life.
Challenges in Caring for Stroke Survivors
Caring for stroke survivors can be very demanding and you need to make sure that you are patient, compassionate, and considerate towards the patient’s needs.
The patients are likely to be uncooperative as they have to relearn basic skills that were lost due to the stroke.
After leaving the hospital the patient will need assistance in carrying out their basic everyday activities and this can cause them to be antagonizing. Here are some ways that you can manage specific problems.
Deficiency in Motor Skills
Lack of motor skills is an after-effect of a stroke and the severity can depend on the size of the affected area.
You should make sure that you encourage patients to exercise for physical fitness and to stimulate the brain to rewire. Patients may seem to be intimidated by the thought of exercise. They see no point in putting in so much hard work with such minuscule results.
You need to motivate the patient to continue their exercises no matter how small the result or how painful. Continued efforts will result in a certain level of rehabilitation of motor skills.
Loss of Sensation
Stroke survivors also suffer from numbness and loss of sensation. Sometimes patients do not know where their arm or leg is and this can increase the intensity of disability.
As a nurse you are expected to make sure that the patient’s limbs are properly positioned so that they do not injure themselves.
While is it uncommon, cognitive problems do occur in stroke survivors. It becomes apparent when the patient goes back to their activities like work.
In such situations, your responsibility includes helping patients differentiate between their earlier and present lifestyle. Most patients are likely to recover their cognition within weeks after the stroke.
Due to the disability caused by the stroke, patients may suffer from psychological problems and coping issues.
Patients may experience, anxiety, depression, mood swings, and post-traumatic stress. Your support and motivation play a vital role in helping patients coping with these problems.
Along with medication, behaviour therapy can help patients overcome these psychological barriers and try to lead a normal life.
Lack of bladder control and bowel movements are common among stroke survivors. Being a nurse with the nursing agency in Boston, you are expected to establish the cause of this problem and work towards finding a solution.
Just accepting the fact that continence is an inevitable aftermath of stroke is not recommended. You need to work with the patient to find a solution so that the patient is saved from embarrassment.
Due to spasticity, contractures, excessive strain on the unaffected side, and subluxation of the shoulder are some causes of pain after a stroke. Finding the cause of pain and treating it should be your priority. If the pain is irreversible, then analgesia may be used.
Patients who suffer from dysphagia will need your skills as a nurse in feeding them. The patient’s nutrition and hydration must be taken care of. You need to also review their progress to know when to start oral feeding.
Fatigue is common among stroke survivors and adequate rest is necessary. While motivating the patient to exercise, care should be taken to ensure that the patient does not overdo it. Over-exercising can lead to tiredness and may demotivate the patient from exercising regularly.
A nurse’s role is critical when it comes to caring for a stroke survivor. Your responsibility includes making sure that the chances of hospital readmission are reduced, assist patient in day-to-day activities, and give support to caregivers. Everyday activities become a struggle for such patients and it is your responsibility to make their life easier and help with rehabilitation.
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