Find out why is bed positioning is crucial for stroke patients

Heart stroke is not an unfamiliar ailment nowadays. Hundreds of people across the globe suffer from this ailment each day. It is caused by many factors such as high cholesterol, unhealthy lifestyle, or it may be partly hereditary. Even though today’s generation is more aware of these risk factors, heart stroke cases still have shown a tremendous spike, owing to the poor eating habits and a fast-paced lifestyle.

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Ischemic stroke, the most common of them all, happens when a clot formed in the blood obstructs its flow to the brain. The second most common one is hemorrhagic stroke. Let us read in detail about what special care needs to be taken with stroke patients. We will specially talk about why bed positioning is critical for them.

1 Why is bed positioning critical

Following a stroke, a patient needs to be tended to immediately not only to treat the stroke, but also to avoid a myriad number of complications. These complications, if not taken seriously by the hospital staff, can prove lethal in the long run. In the first 24 hours of the stroke, patients often complain of the following symptoms:

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  1. Dizziness
  2. Weakness
  3. Motor skill impairment
  4. Vision loss
  5. Unusual level of muscle tone
  6. Cognitive impairment
  7. Imbalance
  8. Inability to support own weight
  9. Difficulty in communicating and speech impairment

Post heart stroke, the patient is usually rendered immobile physically, thus increasing the risks of injury. Besides this, there are a lot of other health hazards that can sprout if care is not taken in positioning the patient on bed. It is of utmost importance to position the stroke patient properly on the bed or chair while tending to him/her.

Why is bed positioning critical

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So, what issues can occur if you don’t pay much attention to bed positioning of stroke patients? Stay calm and go through the list.

  1. Heart pressure damage
  2. Chest infection
  3. Urinary tract infection
  4. Joint contractures
  5. Edema
  6. Muscular atrophy
  7. Blood oxygen saturation imbalance
  8. Digestion problems
  9. Pressure sores (also known as bed sores)

2 How to position the patient correctly

Sitting on the bed position – Make sure that the patient is made to sit with sufficient support to their spine and the affected arm is supported with a pillow or a cushion.

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Positioning the upper limb – The affected arm should be supported with the help of a pillow away from the patient’s body. The fingers and the wrist should also be supported with a pillow or with a towel.

Sitting on a chair position – Ensure that the patient is made to sit in the middle of the chair with knees flexed to 90 degrees and both feet firmly placed on the floor; the hips should be perpendicular to the knees.

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Lying position – Stroke patients can lay on either side, however, not on their back since many patients complain of chest pain and breathlessness in that position. Double check with the patient if they are comfortable and are not experiencing any difficulty. Similar to the sitting position, the affected arm should be supported with a pillow placed between the patient’s legs for greater comfort. This also ensures a consistent blood flow.

How to position the patient correctly

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3 Individual assessment plan

Post stroke, doctors must devise an appropriate plan for each individual rather than following generic norms – after all, every patient is different and everybody responds in a different manner. The doctors should begin with individualized position plan. A complete chart of recommended positions should be prepared and shared with the nurses so they are able to monitor the patients in a better way. Nurses should also be instructed with a time table, indicating the duration in which the patient can sit or lie down.

Once the plan has been shared, the nurses should make sure that the patient gets ample rest to recuperate. Fatigue is a strict ‘no-no’ for stroke patients. They must also instruct the visitors and family members to follow the plan strictly, so as not to overexert the patient. After a stroke, it is perhaps better to limit the number of visits from family members and outsiders.

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Individual assessment plan

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Nurses are professionally equipped to provide post stroke services like washing, dressing, and feeding the patient. Even if the patient is able to perform all these, they should abstain from doing so at least in the first few days post a stroke, to avoid stressing the muscles.

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4 Positioning and mobilization aids

Sometimes following a stroke, patients have severely damaged motor skills; they are unable to even lift a leg or be able to communicate. This is the time when doctors and therapists should consider using special aids to help mobilize the patients. However, the doctors should assess first the specifications and the requirement as to which aids to utilize. Usually, the therapists are the ones more adept in this job. The benefit of using these aids is to support the posture and stabilize pressure equally in all parts of the body.

Specialized aids include specialist eating and drinking equipments, orthoses, splinters, etc. These are typically prescribed in the first 24 hours following a stroke. Nurses need to use a profiling bed to maintain the patient in an upright position. A bedside chair that allows the patients to firmly place their feet on the floor and a tilt-in-space chair, as well as a wheelchair that can be adjusted according to the patient’s stature, are two important aids used by therapists.

Positioning and mobilization aids

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Once the patient is out of danger, occupational therapists and physiotherapists start working with them. Besides getting the patient back to using their motor skills, they also help them to get back to their usual life.

5 Good positioning is a key to speedy recovery

Enough said about how the patient should be positioned, let’s talk about the benefits of following the proper positioning technique for stroke patients. Here’s what results from an appropriate bed positioning:

  • Physical recovery accelerated
  • Motor skills restored faster
  • Communication power restored
  • Ability to get back to the normal self

With the help of an experienced team of doctors, therapists and nurses, coupled with the right mobilization aids and the right post-stroke precautions, a stroke patient can get back on their feet in no time.

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Good positioning is a key to speedy recovery

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