• acute stroke;
  • positioning;
  • stroke unit;
  • nurses;
  • therapists;
  • conscious;
  • patients;
  • unconscious

What do nurses and therapists think about the positioning of stroke patients?

Background.  At present, there are a number of different positioning strategies for stroke patients, but these are mainly based on clinical experience rather than research. Prior to developing a study to evaluate the effect of positioning on outcome after stroke, it was important to establish if nurses in our hospital had given much thought to the positioning of stroke patients.

Aim of the study.  This study aimed to explore whether nurses working on the stroke unit at a Scottish teaching hospital held different views on the positioning of conscious and unconscious stroke patients to nurses working on other wards with stroke patients and therapists.

Methods.  Questionnaires on various aspects of patient positioning were sent to 150 nurses and 25 therapists working in five specialities where stroke patients are cared for in a large teaching hospital.

Findings.  Overall, the majority of nurses and therapists (74%) believed that the best position for conscious stroke patients was sitting in a chair. Also, 80% of them believed that the best position for unconscious stroke patients was lying on the nonparetic side. There was less of a consensus between nurses and therapists working in the five specialities as to whether it was appropriate for conscious or unconscious stroke patients to lie on their paretic side, lie supine or sit propped-up in bed in either a 30 or 70° angle.

Conclusions.  The lack of consensus between nurses working in the five specialities is probably because at present there is little research to guide nursing practices for the positioning of stroke patients. Therefore, research to confirm which positions improves or hinders outcome after stroke is essential. Indeed, positioning is a simple inexpensive strategy, which could have a substantial public health impact, as stroke is so common.