Communication vital in stroke treatment

article3Interdisciplinary teams have improved the treatment of stroke patients, but better outcomes depend on effective communication among team members and caregivers, plus more efficient management of cognitive, emotional and sleep issues.

The daylong State-of-the-Science Stroke Nursing Symposium will address those issues Tuesday, Feb. 21, with a series of presentations during a Plenary Session and four breakout sessions for nursing, rehabilitation and healthcare professionals at all skill levels.

“Collaboration and interdisciplinary teams are how we are going to improve the care of stroke patients. We cannot practice in silos, and so we are moving toward this. We have been doing this for a while, but it is becoming more important that we collaborate,” said Karen L. Saban, PhD, APRN, RN, CNRN, symposium co-moderator.

A new focus of one of the annual symposium’s breakout sessions is cognitive and emotional issues that can start during or after hospitalization.

“We want to talk about how we can work with families and caregivers, and how they can recognize cognitive problems. Close to 50 percent of patients develop some level of depression, so we need to recognize that early and treat it before it becomes even more of an issue,” Saban said.

The plenary will examine the importance of community programs in helping stroke patients transition back to work and driving. Keys to success are the evaluation of patients and coordination with caregivers, which will be covered in three presentations.

Communication between emergency service providers and nurses at the hospital will be a focus of the plenary. Speakers will discuss processes that can help the stroke team be prepared when the patient arrives at the emergency department.

“We want to decrease door-to-needle time in stroke patients,” Saban said. “Speakers will talk about miscommunications that can occur during triage and working with paramedics so they are all talking the same language.”

The afternoon schedule features four concurrent sessions focusing on institution processes, stroke prevention, collaborations; and managing cognitive, emotional and sleep issues.

  • Session A will discuss facilitating admission, progression and discharge for stroke patients throughout the hospital.
  • Session B will examine strategies for preventing stroke and stroke complications, with one speaker focusing on cryptogenic stroke. Almost 30 percent of ischemic strokes are classified as cryptogenic.
  • Session C will review collaboration among professionals, caregivers and support groups to expedite a return to work. Topics will include dysphagia screening and palliative care.
  • Session D will present strategies for assessing cognitive, emotional and sleep issues because patients with delirium are five times more likely than patients without delirium to die within 12 months A focus will be risk factors for delirium, as well as prevention and treatment strategies.

Twelve abstracts will also be presented during the concurrent sessions.

The symposium requires a separate registration fee. For registration information, go to