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Learning disability nursing typically refers to a profession in which a nurse specializes in working with those with learning disabilities. This could be for the treatment of other conditions typical in those with some severe learning delays, or it could be regarding the disability itself. Those who want to get into this profession will typically acquire a nursing degree like any other nurse and then learn their specialty while on the job. Many times, learning disability nursing takes place inside a patient's home, although this is not always the case.
One type of learning disability nursing involves the treatment of physical conditions which come along with many learning disabilities. For instance, those with Down syndrome often have heart problems, trouble eating in the early weeks and months, and sometimes other health conditions. A nurse will likely help in the treatment of these conditions in the hospital or doctor's office. Some parents or caregivers will also hire a nurse to work with the patient in-home to help with any complication that may arise, to give medications, or just to stay with the person if someone else can't be there.
In some cases, learning disability nursing may involve more prolonged care. Some individuals with severe disabilities may require ongoing nursing care for most of their lives. These people may not be able to move very well, and they may need help just to eat and drink. Sometimes this is done using certain medication equipment like feeding tubes and other items. These patients are also more susceptible to bedsores and other problems which can be looked after by a professional nurse.
At other times, learning disability nursing will have more to do with the disability itself. Some nurses specialize in mental health and similar issues, and they may work one on one with patients to help them reach their full potential. Many times these nurses will also handle physical issues that arise, and they may work under the supervision of a therapist or another specialist.
Learning disability nurses may also teach patients to do tasks for themselves to promote independence. This can include teaching them how to maintain proper hygiene, to daily activities like cooking or cleaning. Whether or not a patient is able to become independent will depend widely on his or her limitations and needs.
To get into this field, nurses generally have to attend school for at least two years. Most nurses go to school for closer to four years, although this isn't always the case. Learning disability nursing usually involves home care when services are more ongoing, but some patients may be treated in inpatient hospitals and care facilities for those with severe developmental delays and similar problems.