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Nurses convene at regional conference

March 15, 2013

By Lori Szepelak


HOLYOKE — Nurses from across the Pioneer Valley will converge on The Log Cabin for Scholarship Day 2013 on April 10, featuring research presentations and a keynote address on traumatic brain injury.

The day is sponsored by Beta Zeta Chapter at Large of Sigma Theta Tau International and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst School of Nursing. Joyce Thielan, Elms College, Chicopee; Donna Polverini, American International College, Springfield; and Joan Roche, University of Massachusetts, are coordinating logistics for the annual event.

Karin Reuter-Rice, Ph.D., CPNP-AC, FCCM, an assistant professor in the Duke University School of Nursing and School of Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, will present "Traumatic Brain Injury Research: What Do We Really Know?" following opening remarks by Karen Rousseau, MS, RN, president, Beta Zeta at Large.

During an interview with Reminder Publications, Reuter-Rice noted she has a passion for scientific inquiry.

"Caring for many children admitted for traumatic brain injury (TBI), I often wondered why patients with similar head injuries had such different outcomes," she said. "This led to becoming a co-investigator to explore the incidence, onset, and duration of cerebral vasospasm using Transcranial Doppler ultrasound in children admitted to the pediatric intensive care unit with a TBI."

Reuter-Rice noted that although this initial work was not designed to identify risk factors associated with the development of cerebral vasospasm, she observed that seven out of the 10 patients who were diagnosed with cerebral vasospasm had hypo-density on brain imaging, suggesting ischemia or infarction.

"The study thus suggested that cerebral vasospasm may cause ischemia and increased brain injury in children and that it could influence their functional outcomes," she said.

From that work Reuter-Rice realized the need to explore the biochemical and genetic attributes of cerebral vasospasm, and its relationship to ongoing brain injury in children and adolescents with TBI.

Reuter-Rice stressed there are financial, personal, and societal costs of pediatric traumatic brain injury that are "immense," and the limited therapeutic interventions currently available make this an area of compelling clinical need.

"The goal in the acute care setting is to improve cerebral blood flow to prevent debilitating consequences and promote functional outcomes," she said. "Increasing the knowledge and awareness of brain injury provides nurses and health care teams the ability to predict and explore treatments to prevent ongoing brain injury earlier in the hospitalization, and dramatically affect the functional outcomes of children and adolescents who experience a traumatic brain injury."

Reuter-Rice encourages clinicians from across the region to attend Scholarship Day for a myriad of reasons.

"Understanding how the pediatric brain acts after injury, developing interventions, and ultimately creating pediatric brain injury rehabilitation programs will be translational research at its best," she said. "Therefore the dissemination of this work and others work within the science of biomarker and genetics in TBI will bring a change in the approach to brain injury care."

Reuter-Rice added that collaborative and interprofessional teams that include nursing can develop innovative diagnostic and therapeutic strategies to reduce mortality and promote improved neurologic outcomes of brain-injured children.

Scholarship Day 2013 begins with registration at 7:45 a.m., followed by a continental breakfast and poster session from 8 to 8:45 a.m. Rousseau will make opening remarks at 8:45, followed by Reuter-Rice's presentation from 9 to 10:15 a.m. A poster break session follows her lecture from 10:30 to 11a.m., and a morning research presentation session runs from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. A networking luncheon is planned from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m., followed by a poster session from 1:30 to 1:45 p.m., and the afternoon research presentation from 1:45 to 3:15 p.m.

Tickets are $40 for an unlicensed student; $60, licensed student; $80 for members of Beta Zeta at Large, and $100 for nonmembers, late registration, or registration at the door. The deadline for reservations is April 3.

For more information, contact Polverini at 205-3508 or donna.polverini@aic.edu.

Beta Zeta at Large is celebrating its 40th anniversary as a chapter of the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International. The honor society, now marking its 90th year, is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve the health of people worldwide through leadership and scholarship in practice, education, and research.

For more information about the local organization and its research/scholarship programs, visit http://betazeta.nursingsociety.org/betazetachapter/home.

The local chapter's ongoing community service project is the collection of food items for local food banks during registration events and in April, attendees are asked to bring a nonperishable food item for the food bank of Providence Ministries of Holyoke.

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