Role of Movement Disorders Nurse Specialist

January 2013

Contributed by Orna Moore, RN, MA

The Movement disorders (MD) Nurse Specialist has several key functions in the management of Parkinson’s disease (PD), MSA, PSP, Huntington’s disease, Dystonia and other MD, as well as the care of patients undergoing Deep Brain Stimulation:

1. Provide advanced levels of nursing care.
2. Assist other nurses and health professionals in establishing and meeting health goals of patients and families.
3. Integrate advanced knowledge in a holistic assessment.
4. Focus on the functional problems and behavior that require nursing interventions.

The nurse provides direct patient care and support and plays a vital role in helping improve quality of life (QoL) by educating the patient on the management and control of symptoms and offering support following diagnosis.

  • Ensure that the patient and caregiver receive the information they need.
  • Identify clinical problems, psychological and social needs - provide advice, recommendations and appropriate treatment options.
  • Meet the patient's needs - plans therapeutic interventions and evaluations.
  • Counseling in physical problems, ADL difficulties, autonomic disturbances and other motor and non-motor issues (constipation, urinary problems and dysphagia, falls, orthostatic hypotension and cognitive impairment, depression, hallucinations or sleep disorders).
  • Prescribe medical and consumable equipment and supplies.
  • Discuss and explain about medication in use.
  • Monitor, advice and follow up on adjustment of medications and side effects.
  • Provide dietary advice to patients with fluctuating response to L-dopa.
  • Identify coping and adjustment strategies, motivation and support mechanisms.
  • Empower the patient and the family to identify and reach realistic goals, throughout the course of the disease.
  • Work closely with the multidisciplinary team members.
     

    One of the unique roles of the nurse is the coordination of services in cooperation with other members of the health care team. In addition the nurse acts as a link between the patient, hospital and community services to meet the needs of both patient and carer. In many cases, the involvement and intervention of the nurse can prevent patient re-hospitalizations.

    The MD nurse manages issues throughout the course of the disease from diagnosis to palliative care by providing support and education and giving high quality service that meets the needs and improves or maintains QoL of patients and their families.

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