physical restraint

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the forcible confinement or control of a subject, as of a confused, disoriented, psychotic, or irrational person; it may be either physical or chemical. Restraint of any kind is used only when the patient's behavior presents a danger to himself or herself or another person. It is never used for the convenience of staff or as a substitute for conscientious nursing care.

Chemical restraint refers to the quieting of a violently psychotic or irrational person by means of medication. Physical restraints include restraining mitts to prevent removal of drainage tubes, restraints of upper and lower limbs to limit mobility and prevent the patient from climbing out of bed or physically harming someone at the bedside, and waist and body restraints such as a camisole (straitjacket). Even though the patient might not fully understand the need for restraint, a brief explanation of why it is being done should be given.

Assessment of the need for physical restraint includes a systematic determination of the level of confusion or disorientation exhibited by the patient and objective observations of his behavior. If possible, the cause of the patient's behavior should be identified, e.g., trauma, drug or alcohol intoxication, electrolyte imbalance, elevated temperature, pain, fear, or mental exhaustion. Findings of the assessment should be well documented in specific terms for legal reasons as well as to inform other caretakers and provide continuity of care.

Alternatives to physical restraint include reality orientation for disoriented patients (clocks, radio, television, newspapers, and magazines will all aid patients to orient themselves to reality); controlling the environment to minimize confusion and stimulation (restraints can intensify anxiety and confusion); and constant attendance at the bedside.

Since restraint of patients subjects them to the hazards of immobility, it is essential that they be monitored closely, their vital signs checked regularly, and their position changed at least every two hours. The use of restraints is an active area of nursing research. The most appropriate and least restrictive type of restraint should always be the one chosen.
Types of restraints: A, Chest restraint; B, Hand mitt restraint; C, Belt restraint; D, Mummy restraint. From Lammon et al., 1996.
jacket restraint camisole.
physical restraint
1. see restraint.
2. in the nursing interventions classification, a nursing intervention defined as the application, monitoring, and removal of mechanical restraining devices or manual restraints which are used to limit the physical mobility of a patient.

physical restraint

a nursing intervention from the Nursing Interventions Classification (NIC) defined as application, monitoring, and removal of mechanical restraining devices or manual restraints used to limit physical mobility of a patient. See also Nursing Interventions Classification.


pertaining to the body, to material things, or to physics.

physical agent
the physical causes of disease. Includes altitude, radiation, wetness, exercise, fire, electricity including lightning.
physical diagnosis
a preliminary diagnosis made solely on the basis of a physical examination. Often all that is possible in private practice.
physical examination
examination of the bodily state of a patient by ordinary physical means, as inspection, palpation, percussion and auscultation.
physical exhaustion
see physical exhaustion.
physical findings
results of a physical examination. Observations made visually, by auscultation, palpation, smell, percussion, succussion and ballottement.
physical fitness
quality of being able to perform physically, to turn in a good physical performance. Best tested by performance but in horses can be vaguely predicted by a series of tests including hemoglobin content of blood, heart size, duration of the QRS interval on an ECG, and low levels of muscle enzymes in blood.
physical insults
physical agencies that cause disease. These include trauma, stress (physical as in stress fracture of long bones in horses), hyperthermia (as a cause of congenital defects), persistent wetting, high altitude, lightning stroke, electrocution, bushfire and fire injury, volcanic eruption and exposure to radiation.
physical map
in genetics, determination of the array of genes within a DNA segment of a chromosome.
physical restraint
the use of halters, collars and chains, ropes, harness, twitches of various sorts, squeeze cages, hog holders, dog catchers and many more devices. As distinct from the use of analeptic agents—chemical restraint.
physical stress
see stress.
physical therapist
one who is skilled in the physical and therapeutic techniques of helping to alleviate suffering from muscle, nerve, joint and bone diseases and from injuries and to overcome or prevent disabilities. Among the procedures used by the physical therapist are exercise to increase strength, endurance, coordination, and range of motion; electrical stimulation to activate paralyzed muscles; massage, vibrators and many other patented devices to try to improve the circulation and condition of a part. Called also physiotherapist.


control of an animal so that it can be examined or treated.

restraint bag
see feline restraint bag.
restraint cage
see squeeze cage.
chemical restraint
tranquilizers, sedatives and anesthetics are used depending on the wildness of the animal. See also blow dart.
diversionary restraint
use of various techniques to distract the animal and permit minimal physical restraint, usually used on horses. Examples are tapping or rubbing the head, using a blindfold, pressure on a skin fold, holding an ear, applying a chain shank over the bridge of the nose and use of a war bridle.
physical restraint
includes everything from halters to casting harness for horses, from hog-holders to dog-catchers.
References in periodicals archive ?
as blindfolding, painful restraint, physical abuse, strip searching and
On the SEA website, keywords including restraint, physical restraint, discipline, special education, regulations, and policies were used.