Nursing researcher Heidi L. Lindroth, Ph.D., R.N., describes her area of research and what motivates her goal to eliminate delirium in patients.
Hi, my name is Heidi Lindroth. I am a nurse scientist and practicing critical care nurse at Mayo Clinic.
My vision is a world without delirium. Delirium is a type of an acute brain failure that people experience after an acute event like a surgery, an infection or a traumatic event like a car accident.
Imagine, if your loved one went into the hospital for an elective surgery and while the surgery itself went well, they experienced delirium after surgery and their lives were forever changed. Delirium independently increases the risk of death, both in the hospital and after discharge.
People who experience delirium are more likely to need an institutional facility after discharge from the hospital instead of returning home. They are also more likely to experience declines in both their thinking (or cognition) and function.
In addition to all of this, it is a terrifying experience. A quote from one of my colleagues and a delirium survivor, Mark Hudson, illustrates his experience with delirium well. He says, "Words can't do justice to the horror, terror and fear I experienced while suffering from delirium."
Now my goal is to stop this from happening: to prevent delirium. I am collaborating with an amazing international team of scientists and clinicians, at Mayo Clinic and beyond, to reach this goal. My program of research focuses on anything that will move the needle toward that goal.
This includes the vulnerability to delirium, identifying at-risk individuals and predicting delirium. Building on all available evidence we strive to prevent delirium by finding innovative, scalable, and sustainable solutions to individualize care and mitigate the symptoms and severity of delirium. In other words, identifying things that all of us can do and things that will work.
The patient is central to everything I do. I believe clinical care and research go together. We make our best advancements when we work as part of a team and that is why I am a team research scientist.
I received my Ph.D. from University of Wisconsin-Madison with a focus in neuroscience. My postdoctoral fellowship was at Indiana University where I trained in agile methodologies. And I am honored to be a part of Mayo Clinic. Thank you for listening.