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Crit Care Nurse. 2011 Jun;31(3):19-28. doi: 10.4037/ccn2011653.

Nonpharmacological interventions to manage common symptoms in patients receiving mechanical ventilation.

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University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55455, USA.


Patients receiving mechanical ventilation can experience symptoms such as pain, anxiety, agitation, and lack of sleep while in the intensive care unit, all of which can affect healing. Nonpharmacological complementary therapies can be used as adjuncts to sedatives and analgesics. By incorporating appropriate use of complementary therapies in conjunction with mainstream medical therapies, nurses can decrease patients' anxiety, promote sleep, and promote a healing environment to improve outcomes. Minimizing noise and providing access to natural light help promote a healing environment. Methods to promote sleep include relaxation techniques such as progressive muscle relaxation and massage and communication with patients' and their families to determine the patients' normal sleep patterns. Complementary therapies to relieve anxiety and agitation include music intervention, imagery, presence, and animal-assisted therapy.

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