To examine the patterns of swallowing resolution and outcomes of traumatic brain injury (TBI) patients in an acute care setting and document the risk factors or predictors of resolution of swallowing function.
117 consecutive TBI patients who had received speech pathology intervention for dysphagia during acute postinjury care.
Main outcome measure
Temporal measures relating to pattern of resolution of dysphagia postinjury.
75% of patients were assessed by 2 weeks postinjury, commenced oral intake by 17 days, and ceased supplementation by 3 weeks. By an average of 22 days after admission, 47% had progressed to normal-consistency diet and fluids. Duration to the first swallowing assessment was a predictor for achieving total oral intake and returning to normal intake. There was some preliminary support for severity of CT data and presence/absence of a tracheostomy as predictors for return to normal intake.
The current data document the natural history of swallowing resolution and proposes prognostic factors for patients with impaired swallowing following TBI. Establishing clinical parameters that can help predict patterns of swallowing resolution over the course of acute care admission may greatly assist inpatient management and discharge/rehabilitation planning.