Secondary Mechanisms in Traumatic Brain Injury: A Nurse's Perspective

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Effective management of brain-injured patients requires that nurses have a specialized body of knowledge relating to the pathophysiology and treatment of traumatic brain injury (TBI). Current research in this area has focused on the cascade of secondary injury which leads to the irreversible tissue damage following TBI. Such processes involve excitatory amino acids, neurotransmitters, ion changes, lipid peroxidation, oxygen free radicals, opioids, lactic acidosis and magnesium to name but a few. Given that no accepted treatment paradigm exists to attenuate these secondary processes, nurses may have to autonomously devise individual care plans based on their current understanding of brain injury pathophysiology.

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