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Swallowing Disorders in Severe Brain Injury in the Arousal Phase

Swallowing disorders are common following a traumatic brain injury (TBI), and up to 78% of patients who have had a stroke suffer from swallowing disorders during recovery. This complication increases patients’ risk of dehydration, malnutrition, infection, and overall mortality.

A recent study examined post-TBI swallowing disorders during the arousal phase after coma. Researchers administered food of three different textures (apple compote, sparkling water, and still water) in two different dosages (a teaspoon and a half-cup measure) to thirteen participants with post-TBI swallowing complications. They found that 64% of the participants with severe TBI were able to return to oral food intake during the course of the study. However, they found no significant initial clinical differences between severe-TBI patients who did return to oral feeding within three months and those who did not.

These findings indicate that early detection of swallowing disorders in TBI patients is crucial during the arousal phase of coma. Timely rehabilitation decreases the significant long-term risks that patients may experience as a result of swallowing disorders.

Source: Bremare A, Veber B, Beuret-Blanquart, F. Swallowing disorders in severe brain injury in the arousal phase. Dysphagia. (March 2016).


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