1. Van Demark, Michelle
  2. Berlin, Tracey

Article Content

The American Association of Neuroscience Nurses (AANN) has just completed celebrating its 50th anniversary as the premier neuroscience nursing organization. As the outgoing president of AANN and the journal editorial board liaison, we would like to reflect back on featured literature from 2018. In the early days, AANN's professional publication was the Journal of Neurosurgical Nursing before being changed in 1986 to the Journal of Neuroscience Nursing (JNN) to be more reflective of AANN's membership. Throughout their respective histories, both AANN and JNN have grown alongside one another and become instrumental players in the field of neuroscience nursing.


To honor the major developments that have taken place over the last 50 years, JNN published a series of articles in 2018 covering reflections on 50 years of neuroscience nursing for stroke;1 neuro-oncology;2 neurotrauma;3 movement disorders, neuromuscular disease, and multiple sclerosis;4 and pediatric neuroscience nursing.5 These articles were authored by AANN Special Focus Group members. Before a more detailed discussion of each article, it is important to recognize the adaptable approach that JNN has taken over the years to produce high-quality, influential publications for professionals in the neuroscience field.


Many of JNN's hallmark articles over the past 50 years have made significant contributions to the practice of neuroscience nursing. Initially, JNN published articles that were primarily case studies, nursing care summaries, and literature reviews. As neuroscience nursing evolved and became more specialized, JNN adapted to emerging trends, publishing an increasing number of clinical and scientific articles, leading to improvement in patient care. With its focus on publishing the latest developments in the field, JNN has emerged as a leading resource for knowledge and evidence-based care to guide neuroscience nursing practice as evidenced in the 5 Special Focus Group articles in the Reflections series.


The influential work from JNN is highlighted in the first Reflections article, addressing the topic of movement disorders.4 The subspecialty of movement disorders has seen significant advancement in pharmacology, surgical, and nursing interventions, leading to improved patient outcomes. In the 1960s, L-DOPA was first used in Parkinson disease, and more than 20 years later, surgical procedures were introduced including pallidotomy and deep brain stimulation. Nursing researchers have studied the psychosocial aspects of movement disorders such as depression and fatigue that are experienced by many patients with chronic diseases. Since the 1990s, multiple sclerosis treatment has rapidly evolved from steroids, to injectable interferons, to oral immune modulators. The JNN has continued to highlight improvements in care of patients with other disorders such as Guillain-Barre syndrome, myasthenia gravis, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. As the treatment of movement disorders has improved, JNN has been busy publishing quantitative and qualitative studies to guide neuroscience nurses in providing high-quality care for these patients.


In the second Reflections article, the authors highlighted developments in the field of neurotrauma.3 As healthcare has evolved, nurses can now provide evidence-based care for patients who have sustained traumatic brain injury (TBI) or spinal cord injury. In the early years, qualitative research explored the psychosocial issues affecting patients with TBI and their families. During the 1990s, the "Decade of the Brain", an increase in neuroscience research contributed to growth in the body of literature that helped guide TBI management. In the last 2 decades, there has been an increase in nurse-led research in many aspects of TBI, including secondary brain injury, concussion, and temperature management. Historically, few articles have been published in JNN regarding traumatic spinal cord injury, with the primary focus on literature review, nursing care, and prevention of complications. Today, JNN is helping to translate research from bench to bedside and helping to improve patient care and outcomes.


The third article in the Reflections series demonstrated the impact of JNN on the specialty of neuro-oncology.2 In the early years, only a few neuro-oncology articles were published in JNN, focusing on case studies, nursing interventions, pain management, complementary therapy, and psychosocial issues. In the 1990s, however, JNN devoted an entire issue to neuro-oncology and then, in 2014, published the AANN guidelines "Care of the Adult Patient with a Brain Tumor"6 and "Care of the Pediatric Patient with a Brain Tumor."7 In just the past few years, JNN articles have covered emerging neuro-oncology science related to new innovations, neuroimaging techniques, minimally invasive surgical techniques, new surgical techniques, biomarkers, and advances in treatment options to improve survival.


Stroke care has also significantly evolved in the past 50 years and is addressed in JNN's fourth Reflections article.1 In the early years, JNN's first stroke articles focused on basic nursing care and surgical treatment of cerebral aneurysms and hemorrhagic strokes. In 1984, JNN published one of the first nursing-focused stroke articles on the "Nursing Management of a Patient with a Subarachnoid Hemorrhage"8 and highlighted the importance of nursing care throughout the patient's hospitalization. In 1986, JNN published a groundbreaking nurse-led research article entitled "The Stroke Data Bank Project: Implications for Nursing Research,"9 providing the basis for many functional scales still used today. After US Food and Drug Administration approval of recombinant tissue plasminogen activator to treat acute ischemic stroke in 1996, JNN devoted an entire issue to the nursing care and management of stroke patients receiving thrombolytics. As medical science and technology in stroke care continues to evolve, JNN remains committed to publishing cutting-edge articles to guide nurses in providing high-quality care for stroke patients.


The last Reflections article demonstrates how JNN has actively supported development of the field of pediatric neuroscience nursing.5 Various nursing research studies focusing on pediatric hydrocephalus, brain tumors, and epilepsy have advanced the specialty and improved patient care. Nursing research has been instrumental in developing standardized best practice protocols for the care of children with ventriculostomies. The Journal of Neuroscience Nursing has published important quality improvement studies regarding the psychosocial needs of children and their families that neuroscience nurses apply across the continuum of neuroscience care. Such contributions are critical as professionals within the pediatric neuroscience field continue to focus on providing the highest quality of care.


It is humbling to think about how neuroscience nursing has evolved and the tremendous contribution nurses have made to advance our profession over the past 50 years. With ongoing research and its application to clinical practice, we can expect many more advances in our field. The Journal of Neuroscience Nursing continues to keep pace with and guide the profession by delivering current, high-quality scientific and clinical articles. Together, AANN and JNN will meet the challenges posed by a rapidly evolving specialty by providing education, access to current literature, and cutting-edge research to improve patient care and outcomes.




1. Jackson N, Haxton E, Morrison K, et al. Reflections on 50 years of neuroscience nursing: the growth of stroke nursing. J Neurosci Nurs. 2018;50(4):188-192. [Context Link]


2. Reed ME, Anthony PP, Rosenfeld PB, Ligon BL, Doris EM, Fox SW. Reflections on 50 years of neuroscience nursing: neuro-oncology, moving forward by looking back. J Neurosci Nurs. 2018;50(3):124-128. [Context Link]


3. McNett M, Keiser M, Douglas H, McNair ND. Reflections on 50 years of neuroscience nursing: publication trends in neurotrauma. J Neurosci Nurs. 2018;50(2):58-61. [Context Link]


4. Woods JM. Reflections on 50 years of neuroscience nursing: movement disorders, neuromuscular disease, and multiple sclerosis. J Neurosci Nurs. 2018;50(1):5-12. [Context Link]


5. Weak L, Fecske E, Breedt A, Cartwright C, Crawford D, Forbes A. Reflections on 50 years of pediatric neuroscience nursing. J Neurosci Nurs. 2018;50(5):260-264. [Context Link]


6. Blissitt PA American Association of Neuroscience Nurses. Clinical practice guideline series update: care of the adult patient with a brain tumor. J Neurosci Nurs. 2014;46(6):367-368. [Context Link]


7. Blissitt PA American Association of Neuroscience Nurses. Clinical practice guideline series update: care of the pediatric patient with a brain tumor. J Neurosci Nurs. 2014;46(6):368. [Context Link]


8. Chase M, Whelan-Decker E. Nursing management of a patient with a subarachnoid hemorrhage. J Neurosurg Nurs. 1984;16(1):23-29. [Context Link]


9. Bronstein K, Murray P, Licata-Gehr E, et al. The Stroke Data Bank project: implications for nursing research. J Neurosci Nurs. 1986;18(3):132-134. [Context Link]