Neurological rehabilitation nursing: a review of the literature
Neurological rehabilitation is increasingly seen as a specialist form of rehabilitation requiring specialist nursing knowledge. However, as in many areas of nursing, nurses in this field recognize that there is a need to increase their knowledge base to ensure that they provide the best and most up-to-date quality care for their patients and their families. To achieve high levels of competence, neurological rehabilitation nurses need to be aware of the existing body of research in this field so that they can make sound decisions regarding their practice and future research endeavours. This review aims to validate the existing knowledge base in this area by identifying and critically analysing research conducted in the area of neurological rehabilitation nursing during the decade 1988–1998 and by identifying any gaps and weaknesses that may be addressed by future research. Studies were included in the review if they examined an aspect of rehabilitation nursing, were concerned predominately with the neurological patient and were conducted in an in-patient setting. Research with a medical focus was not included and only research published in English was reviewed. Relevant research located examined the following areas: (1) the role of the rehabilitation nurse; (2) specific problems concerning the neurological rehabilitation patient; (3) specific nursing interventions; (4) rehabilitation nursing practice; (5) the delivery of rehabilitation programmes and team working; and (6) the family of the rehabilitation patient. The review concludes that research in this speciality remains limited both in quantity and quality. Most of the studies lack rigour and, because they were conducted at a single site, their generalizability to other clinical sites may be limited.