Brain Injury: The Intensive Care Unit (ICU)

While your loved one is in the intensive care unit, many different machines will be used to monitor their progress. The picture below shows the most common machines. If you have any questions about the equipment being used to care for your loved one, ask one of the ICU staff members.

ICU Machines

ICU Machines – see definitions below

The following are definitions of the ICU equipment pictured above.

Monitor screen — a screen that displays the patient’s heart rate, breathing, blood pressure, and intracranial pressure.

Head dressing — a bandage to keep the head injury or surgical incision clean and dry.

ICP monitor — a small tube placed into or just on top of the brain through a small hole in the skull. It measures the amount of intracranial pressure inside the brain.

EKG lead wires — wires connected to the chest with small patches that measure heart rate and rhythm.

Nasogastric tube — a tube inserted through the nose and into the stomach that can be used to suction the stomach or provide liquid food into the stomach.

Endotracheal tube — a tube inserted through the patient’s nose or mouth into the trachea (windpipe) to help with breathing and suctioning.

Intravenous catheter (IV) and intravenous fluid — a flexible tube through which fluid, nutrients, and medicine are given.

Ventilator – a machine that helps with breathing or breathes completely for a patient.

Anti-embolism stockings (often called TEDS or TED hose) — long white stockings which help prevent blood clots from forming in the legs.

Sequential compression stockings (also called SCD hose) — plastic leg wraps that inflate and deflate to help prevent blood from pooling in the legs.

Foley catheter — a drainage tube from the bladder that allows urine to be collected and measured.


Traumatic Brain Injury Booklet CoverBrain Injury: A guide for family and friends

Table of Contents

What is a Brain Injury?
How Bad Is It?
How the Brain Functions
Common Problems During Early Recovery
The Intensive Care Unit (ICU)
Understanding Coma
How Does an Injured Brain Heal?
How You Can Help With Recovery
• Where Will the Journey Go From Here?
How Will I Ever Get Through This?
Where to Go for Help
• Books for Families Coping With Brain Injury

Brain Anatomy


  1. Mary ann kemnitzer says

    1st cardiac arrest in July and a stroke whined from ventilator 8 weeks later 2nd cardiac arrest day of admittance to rehab weaned from ventilator 1week
    No ventilator at rehab presently in icu not in coma but unresponsive to stimuli on ventilator and feeding tube tests show minimal brain eyes moved when hearing favorite music eyes open and close makes chewing motion with his mouth I am looking for a facility that would Erin him off the ventilator but provide rehab for patients is this conscious state I’m afraid the hospital is going to put him in a ventilator hospital but not treat his
    Present neurostate can any body suggest a facility like this in northeast

  2. My 54 yr old sister cardiac arrested at home thinking she was without oxygen 6 min how long do you wait to make a decision to take her off the vent?

  3. Krishan Gahlawat says

    On dated 7/7/2015 in the morning my brother fall down from tree and head injured. He on the spot went on coma. Clinically treatment have in PGIMS Rohtak but improvement not tell by Dr. team.
    I request for good guidance and help.

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