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Brain Injury: Nursing Concerns

presented by Anne Leclaire, RN, MSN, CRRN

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Disclosure Statement:

Financial: Anne Leclaire receives compensation from MedBridge for this course. There is no financial interest beyond the production of this course.


 Non-Financial: Anne Leclaire has no competing non-financial interests or relationships with regard to the content presented in this course.

Satisfactory completion requirements: All disciplines must complete learning assessments to be awarded credit, no minimum score required unless otherwise specified within the course.

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The effects of brain injuries vary depending on the location and severity of damage within the brain. Rehabilitation nurses can improve patient outcomes by customizing interventions to address the deficits in targeted areas of the damaged brain. Each lobe of the brain has specific functions, and rehabilitation nurses can use this knowledge to guide patient care and set expected outcomes. In this course, participants will learn how a brain injury affects different systems within the body and review different assessment tools that can be used to identify the severity of the injury and potential for recovery.

Meet Your Instructor

Anne Leclaire, RN, MSN, CRRN

Anne graduated with a Master of Science-Nursing from the University of Phoenix and has worked in the field of rehabilitation nursing for most of her career. She started as a staff nurse in inpatient rehabilitation at Weldon Center for Rehabilitation in Springfield, Massachusetts and then moved to Madison, Wisconsin, at University of Wisconsin Hospitals and…

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1. Assessment Instruments and Tools

Assessment instruments are used throughout the continuum of brain injury recovery. These tools, such as the Rancho Los Amigos Levels of Cognitive Functioning scale and FIMTM Functional Independence Measurements, provide an objective scale to assist caregivers in diagnosing the extent of the brain damage and assist in identifying improvements in cognition and function. This chapter will help rehabilitation nurses to recognize the purpose of these tools and understand when and how they should be used.

2. Lobes of the Brain and Associated Deficits

No two brain injuries are exactly alike. Each lobe of the brain is responsible for certain executive functions. When one of these areas of the brain sustains damage, certain characteristics of behavior and function can be expected. This chapter will provide an understanding of the function of each lobe and how this knowledge can be translated into a patient’s plan of care and expected outcomes.

3. Neurological Concerns Following Brain Injury

A brain injury is an insult to the central nervous system, so it is no surprise that this system would be significantly affected. Some of the damage is obvious immediately while other disorders develop over time. The rehabilitation nurse needs to be aware of the symptoms of these conditions; some are life threatening while others can significantly affect future functional outcomes. This chapter discusses immediate medical concerns, such as dysautonomia, as well as paresis, spasticity, and tone, which have long-term functional consequences.

4. How Brain Injury Affects Other Body Systems

Brain injuries affect all bodily systems to varying degrees, based on the location and extent of the damage in the brain. This chapter will discuss the effects on the cardiovascular, integumentary, and pulmonary systems as well as identify changes to sleep, sensation, perception and sexuality. It is important that rehabilitation nurses are versed in these changes to be able to identify changes from the norm and provide patient and family education to address these.

5. Types and Treatment of Pain Following a Brain Injury

A person with a brain injury may experience acute or chronic pain that is dependent upon the location within the brain that is damaged, the extent of that damage and the length of time post injury. This chapter will show rehabilitation nurses how to identify the causative factors in order to provide the best intervention for treating that pain.

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