This series of articles for rehabilitation in practice aims to cover a knowledge element of the rehabilitation medicine curriculum. Nevertheless they are intended to be of interest to a multidisciplinary audience. The competency addressed in this article is 'The trainee demonstrates a knowledge of diagnostic approaches for specific impairments including cognitive dysfunction as a result of cardiac arrest.' Abstract Objective: To describe a new early intervention service for survivors of cardiac arrest and their caregivers, and to explain the evidence and rationale behind it.
Rationale: A cardiac arrest may cause hypoxic-ischaemic brain injury, which often results in cognitive impairments. Survivors of cardiac arrest can also encounter emotional problems, limitations in daily life, reduced participation in society and a decreased quality of life. A new early intervention service was designed based on literature study, expert opinion and patient experiences. Description of the intervention: The early intervention service is an individualized programme, consisting of one to six consultations by a specialized nurse for the patient and their caregiver. The intervention starts soon after discharge from the hospital and can last up to three months. The intervention consists of screening for cognitive and emotional problems, provision of information and support, promotion of self-management strategies and can include referral to further specialized care if indicated.
Discussion: This intervention is assumed to reduce future problems related to hypoxic-ischaemic brain injury in the patient and caregiver, and its effectiveness is currently being investigated in a randomized controlled multicentre trial.