Riding Out the Storm: Sympathetic Storming after Traumatic Brain Injury

Denise M. Lemke


J Neurosci Nurs. 2004;36(1) 

In This Article

Family Education

The family is dealing with many unknowns at this time, leading to an array of emotions. The injury, hospitalization, equipment, ICU setting, and separation all play a part in their anxiety, frustration, and fears. These variables, and many more, make this time stressful. The onset of storming with its characteristic presentation of distress can signal problems to the family. Family education is an important aspect of the management of the TBI individual, especially in the individual enduring storming. This education should be geared toward reviewing the etiology of the storming, the treatment plan, and goals; clarifying that the storming may not necessarily require ICU care; clarifying potential duration of sympathetic dysfunction; and most importantly, identifying how they can help. The family can be useful in identifying triggers or treating an episode. Simple things such as applying a cool cloth to the forehead, providing a bath, assisting in monitoring response to medications, and utilizing techniques to promote relaxation can help provide a sense of security, a sense of control, and a sense that they are helping in the care of their loved one.


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