Neuroscience Intensive Care Unit (NSICU)

The NSICU is designed to provide round-the-clock care for critically ill patients affected by brain or spine injury. Close monitoring by highly trained staff and specialized equipment gives your loved one the best chance of recovery. The amount of time a patient stays in the NSICU varies according to his or her medical condition. Patients recovering from a scheduled surgery who experience few complications may spend only a couple of days in the NSICU. Patients who have suffered a trauma, have complications, or are in poor health may spend several weeks in the NSICU.

Level of Care

The monitoring of patients with damage to the brain or spine is very different from the monitoring of patients with injuries to other parts of the body. Machines can measure many body functions but cannot tell us about mental changes (in consciousness, memory or thinking). Patients are awakened every hour hours for nursing-care assessments of their brain function. Lack of sleep drains their energy and requires us to limit visiting hours. In addition, blood pressure must be strictly controlled. We ask that family and friends not over-stimulate the patient; please talk in a low volume and keep conversations light.

The Family’s Role

Many family members express feelings of helplessness when a loved one is in the NSICU. You are not alone. Take this time to learn about brain and spine injury so that you can help your loved one recover to the fullest. Please take care of yourself and use your energy wisely.

Visiting hours in the NSICU are restricted. Too much stimulation can agitate the patient and raise his or her blood pressure. You can most effectively convey your concern by sitting quietly and holding your loved one’s hand. Be aware that the patient, though silent, may hear anything you say. Never speak as if the patient were not there.

We will ask the family to select a spokesperson to communicate with the medical team. That person should write down all family members’ questions and take notes so that answers can be distributed to interested family and friends. This allows the staff more time to care for your loved one.

We encourage families to take advantage of CarePages, a free, private Web page that will help you keep in touch with family and friends. CarePages will help you control the flow of information, update everyone without repeated phone calls, and receive support from family and friends.