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J Trauma. 1999 May;46(5):817-21; discussion 821-3.

Formal swallowing evaluation and therapy after traumatic brain injury improves dysphagia outcomes.

Author information

1
Department of Surgery, University of Wisconsin Hospital, Madison 53792, USA. schurr@surgery.wisc.edu

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

The incidence of swallowing dysfunction after brain injury is unknown. The efficacy of dysphagia therapy is also unknown. We reviewed our experience to define the incidence of swallowing dysfunction and efficacy of therapeutic intervention.

METHODS:

Patients with brain injury sustained between January of 1996 and December of 1997 were reviewed. All were screened with trials of oral intake. Abnormal findings were confirmed with a videofluoroscopic swallow study. Standard therapies included diet, posture, and behavior modifications.

RESULTS:

A total of 47 patients were evaluated. Bedside evaluations were normal in 14 patients, 2 patients had overt aspiration and underwent gastrostomy, and 31 patients were referred for a videofluoroscopic swallow study (66%). The videofluoroscopic swallow study was abnormal in 22 of 31 patients (71%). Of these, 4 additional patients required gastrostomy, 13 patients had laryngeal penetration or minor aspiration responsive to dysphagia therapy and were fed. Five other patients had silent aspiration and were fed by means of nasogastric tube; these five patients responded to dysphagia therapy and were able to resume oral intake.

CONCLUSION:

Dysphagia is common after severe head injury. With formal swallowing service intervention, aspiration is avoided. Therapeutic interventions can be used to restore oral intake.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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