Pseudobulbar Affect: What Nurses, Stroke Survivors, and Caregivers Need to Know

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Pseudobulbar affect (PBA) is a neurologic condition that can happen after a patient has had some kind of neurological insult. In this syndrome, involuntary, uncontrollable, and inappropriate emotional outbursts unrelated or out of proportion to the situation are common symptoms. This can be very frustrating and scary. Because stroke survivors and their caregivers are overloaded with information during the transition from hospital to home, information about PBA is not usually discussed. In a survey by the National Stroke Association, 53% of stroke survivors reported that they had some of the symptoms of this disorder. Even if they discussed these symptoms with their health care providers, less than half were given a diagnosis, and less than a quarter received any kind of treatment. The purpose of this article is to give nurses more information about PBA so they can share this with patients and families/significant others and encourage them to seek help if they experience these symptoms once discharged. It is hoped that increased knowledge about this condition will lead to better diagnosis and treatment and increased quality of life for stroke survivors.

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