Question regarding posturing

  1. Hello to all the nurse angels. It has entered my mind since witnessing my father's passing a question I never had until now. I do hope it doesn't strike anyone as odd but felt confident that I could ask this here. I have in my short 1.5 yrs of LPN nursing being in attendance of deaths in different circumstances, and after witnessing my own father placing his arms crossing his chest laying more to the side as the last few moments came, now wondered after seeing this very same position of others if it is a protection mechanism or if it is subconscience or purely physiological? I just seem to be far more aware of this now than I ever was before. I would be relieved to hear a knowledgeable response to help reduce the visual that's been bothering me. :redpinkhe
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    About newtress

    Joined: Dec '06; Posts: 461; Likes: 309
    LPN; from US
    Specialty: 3 year(s) of experience in med surg ltc psych


  3. by   nhelkhound
    Clinically speaking, posturing is due to brain damage. Acute brain damage can manifest as posturing, but at the end of life in a known disease trajectory it would be unlikely, but possible, particularly with brain CA or mets.
  4. by   newtress
    Yes. Perhaps my use of the term posturing was incorrect. My question was in reference to the position of the arms forming an X across the chest which gives the appearance of a person trying to protect themselves or have their hands close to their chest or heart. That is more what I meant to find out. I apologize for the misleading term I used.
  5. by   tewdles
    I wouldn't stress over it. People assume a variety of positions when they are dying. In my line of work they are usually in a position known to be comfortable to them.
  6. by   rickard
    This position sounds like decorticate posturing. It is seen commonly in neuro icu's and trauma units.
    here are some links

    Abnormal posturing - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Decorticate posture: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia
  7. by   newtress
    Thank you Rikard for posting the links which I viewed and read both. Within the decorticate definition it does include another factor besides traumatic brain injury. I just wondered on this because as I said I've seen this position of those who usually had a dx of terminal CA and very evident cachexia. A difficult visual for me as the last way I saw my dad and he had never layed or slept in a position like that before in his life; so odd to see him with his arms crossed like that with the hands clenched up.