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Reading as a Nursing Intervention for Agitation in Patients with Anoxic Brain Injury

After experiencing a traumatic brain injury (TBI), some patients may exhibit symptoms of agitation. If these symptoms (such as impulsivity, aggression, and restlessness) are not appropriately treated, patients may be at higher risk of injury from falling, sedation, or use of restraints. However, tending to the needs of agitated patients can place strain on nursing staff, who must spend additional time treating agitation and ensuring patient safety.

A recent case study examined the effects of reading on agitation for a patient with TBI. A 48-year-old woman suffered anoxic brain injury after a cardiac arrest, and during evenings and nights, she became extremely agitated, screaming for nurses and attempting to climb over protective bed railings. Daily treatment with Ativan proved ineffective, and after three works post-injury, she had already suffered from three falls.

After other treatments for agitation failed, a nurse sat with the patient and read to her from a randomly selected book for a period of 15 minutes. During this time, the patient was calm and then fell asleep. Nurses repeated this short, soothing ritual throughout the remainder of her hospital stay, ensuring that the patient received adequate rest while also relieving strain on evening nursing staff.

Though treating agitation can place additional pressure on nursing staff, patient well-being is of utmost priority. Brief intervention strategies such as nightly reading may prove both calming for the agitated patient and a time-effective strategy for nurses, who must balance this kind of patient care with other hospital duties. The findings of this case study merit further research into reading as an intervention strategy that benefits patient and caregiver alike.

Source: Schwark J & Fields W. Reading as a nursing intervention for agitation in patients with anoxic brain injury. Rehabilitation Nursing. (August 2016).

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