12 Stroke (Cerebrovascular Accident) Nursing Care Plans

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Included in this guide are 12 nursing diagnosis for stroke (cerebrovascular accident) nursing care plans. Know about the nursing interventions for stroke, its assessment, goals, and related factors of each nursing diagnosis and care plan for stroke.

What is Cerebrovascular Accident (CVA) or Stroke? 

Cerebrovascular accident (CVA), also known as stroke, cerebral infarction, brain attack, is any functional or structural abnormality of the brain caused by pathological condition of the cerebral vessels of the entire cerebrovascular system. It is the sudden impairment of cerebral circulation in one or more of the blood vessels supplying the brain. This pathology either causes hemorrhage from a tear in the vessel wall or impairs the cerebral circulation by a partial or complete occlusion of the vessel lumen with transient or permanent effects. The sooner the circulation returns to normal after a stroke, the better the chances are for complete recovery. However, about half of those who survived a stroke remain disabled permanently and experience the recurrence within weeks, months, or years.

Thrombosis, embolism, and hemorrhage are the primary causes for stroke, with thrombosis being the main cause of both CVAs and transient ischemic attacks (TIAs). The most common vessels involved are the carotid arteries and those of the vertebrobasilar system at the base of the brain.

A thrombotic CVA causes a slow evolution of symptoms, usually over several hours, and is “completed” when the condition stabilizes. An embolic CVA occurs when a clot is carried into cerebral circulation and causes a localized cerebral infarct. Hemorrhagic CVA is caused by other conditions such as a ruptured aneurysm, hypertension, arteriovenous (AV) malformations, or other bleeding disorders.

Nursing Care Plans

The major nursing care plan goals for patients with stroke depends on the phase of CVA the client is into. During the acute phase of CVA, efforts should focus on survival needs and prevention of further complications. Care revolves around efficient continuing neurologic assessment, support of respiration, continuous monitoring of vital signs, careful positioning to prevent aspiration and contractures, management of GI problems, and careful monitoring of electrolyte, and nutritional status. Nursing care should also include measures to prevent complications.

Listed below are 12 nursing diagnosis for stroke (cerebrovascular accident) nursing care plans: 

  1. Ineffective Cerebral Tissue Perfusion
  2. Impaired Physical Mobility
  3. Impaired Verbal Communication
  4. Disturbed Sensory Perception
  5. Ineffective Coping
  6. Self-Care Deficit
  7. Risk for Impaired Swallowing
  8. Activity Intolerance
  9. Risk for Unilateral Neglect
  10. Deficient Knowledge
  11. Risk for Disuse Syndrome
  12. Risk for Injury
  13. Other Nursing Diagnosis
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Impaired Verbal Communication

Nursing Diagnosis

Related Factors

Common related factors for this nursing diagnosis:

  • Impaired cerebral circulation; neuromuscular impairment, loss of facial/oral muscle tone/control; generalized weakness/fatigue

Defining Characteristics

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The common assessment cues that could serve as defining characteristics or part of your “as evidenced by” in your diagnostic statement.

  • Impaired articulation; does not/cannot speak (dysarthria)
  • Inability to modulate speech, find and name words, identify objects; inability to comprehend written/spoken language
  • Inability to produce written communication

Desired Outcomes

Common goals and expected outcomes:

  • Patient will indicate an understanding of the communication problems.
  • Patient will establish method of communication in which needs can be expressed.
  • Patient will use resources appropriately.

Nursing Interventions and Rationales

Here are the nursing assessment and interventions for this stroke nursing care plan.

Nursing Interventions Rationale
Nursing Assessment
Assess extent of dysfunction: patient cannot understand words or has trouble speaking or making self understood. Differentiate aphasia from dysarthria. Helps determine area and degree of brain involvement and difficulty patient has with any or all steps of the communication process. Patient may have receptive aphasia or damage to the Wernicke’s speech area which is characterized by difficulty of understanding spoken words. He may also have expressive aphasia or damage to the Broca’s speech areas, which is difficulty in speaking words correctly, or may experience both. Choice of interventions depends on type of impairment. Aphasia is a defect in using and interpreting symbols of language and may involve sensory and/or motor components (inability to comprehend written and/or spoken words or to write, make signs, speak). A dysarthric person can understand, read, and write language but has difficulty forming and pronouncing words because of weakness and paralysis of oral musculature. Patient may lose ability to monitor verbal output and be unaware that communication is not sensible.
Ask patient to follow simple commands (“Close and open your eyes,” “Raise your hand”); repeat simple words or sentences; Tests for receptive aphasia.
Therapeutic Interventions
Listen for errors in conversation and provide feedback. Feedback helps patient realize why caregivers are not understanding or responding appropriately and provides opportunity to clarify meaning.
Point to objects and ask patient to name them. Tests for expressive aphasia. Patient may recognize item but not be able to name it.
Have patient produce simple sounds (“Dog,” “meow,” “Shh”). Identifies dysarthria, because motor components of speech (tongue, lip movement, breath control) can affect articulation and may or may not be accompanied by expressive aphasia.
Ask patient to write his name and a short sentence. If unable to write, have patient read a short sentence. Tests for writing disability (agraphia) and deficits in reading comprehension (alexia), which are also part of receptive and expressive aphasia.
Write a notice at the nurses’ station and patient’s room about speech impairment. Provide a special call bell that can be activated by minimal pressure if necessary. Allays anxiety related to inability to communicate and fear that needs will not be met promptly.
Provide alternative methods of communication: writing, pictures. Provides communication needs of patient based on individual situation and underlying deficit.
Anticipate and provide for patient’s needs. Helpful in decreasing frustration when dependent on others and unable to communication desires.
Talk directly to patient, speaking slowly and distinctly. Phrase questions to be answered simply by yes or no. Progress in complexity as patient responds. Reduces confusion and allays anxiety at having to process and respond to large amount of information at one time. As retraining progresses, advancing complexity of communication stimulates memory and further enhances word and idea association.
Speak in normal tones and avoid talking too fast. Give patient ample time to respond. Avoid pressing for a response. Patient is not necessarily hearing impaired, and raising voice may irritate or anger patient. Forcing responses can result in frustration and may cause patient to resort to “automatic” speech (garbled speech, obscenities).
Encourage SO/visitors to persist in efforts to communicate with patient: reading mail, discussing family happenings even if patient is unable to respond appropriately. It is important for family members to continue talking to patient to reduce patient’s isolation, promote establishment of effective communication, and maintain sense of connectedness with family.
Discuss familiar topics, e.g., weather, family, hobbies, jobs. Promotes meaningful conversation and provides opportunity to practice skills.
Respect patient’s preinjury capabilities; avoid “speaking down” to patient or making patronizing remarks. Enables patient to feel esteemed, because intellectual abilities often remain intact.
Consult and refer patient to speech therapist. Assesses individual verbal capabilities and sensory, motor, and cognitive functioning to identify deficits/therapy needs.
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References and Sources

The following are the references and recommended sources for stroke nursing care plans and nursing diagnosis including interesting resources to further your reading about the topic:

  • Ackley, B. J., Ladwig, G. B., Msn, R. N., Makic, M. B. F., Martinez-Kratz, M., & Zanotti, M. (2019). Nursing Diagnosis Handbook E-Book: An Evidence-Based Guide to Planning Care. Mosby. [Link]
  • Black, J. M., & Hawks, J. H. (2009). Medical-surgical nursing: Clinical management for positive outcomes (Vol. 1). A. M. Keene (Ed.). Saunders Elsevier. [Link]
  • Carpenito-Moyet, L. J. (2006). Handbook of nursing diagnosis. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. [Link]
  • Doenges, M. E., Moorhouse, M. F., & Murr, A. C. (2016). Nurse’s pocket guide: Diagnoses, prioritized interventions, and rationales. FA Davis. [Link]
  • Gulanick, M., & Myers, J. L. (2016). Nursing Care Plans: Diagnoses, Interventions, and Outcomes. Elsevier Health Sciences. [Link]
  • Lewis, S. M., Dirksen, S. R., Heitkemper, M. M., Bucher, L., & Harding, M. (2017). Medical-surgical nursing: Assessment and management of clinical problems.
  • Urden, L. D., Stacy, K. M., & Lough, M. E. (2006). Thelan’s critical care nursing: diagnosis and management (pp. 918-966). Maryland Heights, MO: Mosby.

See Also

You may also like the following posts and care plans:

Neurological Care Plans

Nursing care plans for related to nervous system disorders:

16 COMMENTS

  1. I love this site and it has helped me so much through school, but I need to address an intervention here: One should NEVER massage any reddened areas. Please fix this

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