Nursing Care Plan for Autonomic Dysreflexia

Nursing Care Plan for Autonomic Dysreflexia


Autonomic dysreflexia is a potentially life-threatening condition that occurs in individuals with spinal cord injuries above the T6 level. It is characterized by a sudden, exaggerated autonomic response to a noxious stimulus below the level of injury. As a nurse, your role is crucial in recognizing and managing autonomic dysreflexia promptly. This nursing care plan aims to outline evidence-based interventions to identify and effectively address autonomic dysreflexia.

Patient Information:

  • Name: [Patient’s Name]
  • Age: [Patient’s Age]
  • Gender: [Patient’s Gender]
  • Medical History: [Brief summary of patient’s medical history]
  • Level of Spinal Cord Injury: [Specify the level of injury]
  • Support System: [Identify individuals involved in patient’s care and support]
  • Date of Admission: [Date of Admission]
  • Date of Care Plan: [Date of Care Plan]

Nursing Diagnosis:

  1. Ineffective Tissue Perfusion related to autonomic dysreflexia.
  2. Risk for Injury related to sudden increases in blood pressure and potential complications.
  3. Impaired Urinary Elimination related to autonomic dysreflexia.
  4. Deficient Knowledge regarding autonomic dysreflexia management and prevention.
  5. Ineffective Tissue Perfusion: Cerebral related to autonomic dysreflexia as evidenced by severe headache and hypertension.
  6. Risk for Injury related to autonomic dysreflexia-induced complications as evidenced by increased blood pressure, bradycardia or tachycardia, and potential for stroke or other cardiovascular events.
  7. Anxiety related to the sudden onset of symptoms and fear of complications as evidenced by the patient’s expression of worry, restlessness, or increased heart rate.

Nursing Assessment For Autonomic Dysreflexia:

Subjective Data:

  • The patient may report sudden onset of severe headache, flushing, or sweating.
  • The patient may provide a history of spinal cord injury or other conditions associated with autonomic dysreflexia.

Objective Data:

  • Severe hypertension (high blood pressure).
  • Bradycardia (slow heart rate) or tachycardia (rapid heart rate).
  • Facial flushing and excessive sweating above the level of the spinal cord injury.
  • Anxiety or restlessness.
  • Bladder distention or bowel impaction.

Nursing Interventions and Rationales:

Ineffective Tissue Perfusion:

  1. Monitor the patient’s blood pressure frequently to identify and manage hypertensive episodes promptly.
  2. Elevate the head of the bed to a semi-Fowler’s position to promote venous drainage and reduce cerebral pressure.
  3. Assess neurological status regularly to detect any signs of neurological deterioration.
  4. Administer prescribed antihypertensive medications as ordered to manage blood pressure within safe limits.
  5. Collaborate with the healthcare team to identify and address underlying triggers or causes of autonomic dysreflexia.
  6. Monitor blood pressure and heart rate frequently, especially during potential triggers, to detect signs of autonomic dysreflexia.
  7. Elevate the patient’s head to a semi-Fowler’s position to promote venous return and alleviate hypertension.
  8. Remove any constrictive clothing or objects that may impede blood flow or exacerbate symptoms.
  9. Administer prescribed antihypertensive medications as ordered to control blood pressure.

Risk for Injury:

  1. Identify and remove the trigger or noxious stimulus causing autonomic dysreflexia promptly, such as a full bladder or pressure ulcer.
  2. Collaborate with the healthcare team to address underlying causes of autonomic dysreflexia, such as urinary retention or skin breakdown.
  3. Educate the patient and their caregivers on recognizing the signs and symptoms of autonomic dysreflexia and implementing immediate interventions.
  4. Implement fall precautions, especially during episodes of autonomic dysreflexia, to prevent injury from sudden changes in blood pressure.

Impaired Urinary Elimination:

  1. Monitor the patient’s urinary output and assess for signs of urinary retention, such as bladder distension or discomfort.
  2. Assist the patient with regular catheterization or use of intermittent catheters to maintain bladder emptying and prevent urinary retention.
  3. Collaborate with the healthcare team to ensure adequate hydration and implement strategies to manage neurogenic bladder, such as timed voiding or pharmacological interventions.

Deficient Knowledge:

  1. Provide education to the patient and their caregivers about autonomic dysreflexia, its causes, and potential triggers.
  2. Teach the patient how to perform self-monitoring of blood pressure and heart rate, and when to seek medical assistance.
  3. Instruct the patient on proper bladder and bowel management techniques to minimize the risk of autonomic dysreflexia.
  4. Collaborate with the interdisciplinary team to provide educational materials, resources, and support to enhance the patient’s knowledge and self-management skills.

Evaluation and Expected Outcomes:

  1. Improved tissue perfusion with stabilized blood pressure and heart rate during potential triggers.
  2. Prevention of injuries related to autonomic dysreflexia through prompt identification and removal of triggers.
  3. Maintained urinary elimination with regular bladder management and prevention of urinary retention.
  4. Increased knowledge and understanding of autonomic dysreflexia management and prevention.


Regularly document the patient’s progress, interventions provided, and the outcomes achieved. Collaborate with the interdisciplinary healthcare team to review and update the care plan based on the patient’s evolving needs and responses to interventions.


This nursing care plan is a general guideline and should be individualized according to the patient’s specific needs, level of spinal cord injury, and triggers for autonomic dysreflexia. Collaboration with the interdisciplinary healthcare team, including physicians, rehabilitation specialists, and urologists, is essential to provide comprehensive care for individuals with autonomic dysreflexia.


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