Six-Month Outcome for Dysphagia Following Traumatic Brain Injury: Radiological Assessment.
The coexistence of a swallowing impairment, or dysphagia, can severely impact upon the medical condition and recovery of a child with traumatic brain injury (TBI; Logemann, Pepe, & Mackay, 1994). Despite this fact, there is limited data that provide evidence of the progression or outcome of dysphagia in the pediatric population post-TBI (Rowe, 1999). The present study aimed to (1) provide a prospective radiologically based profile of swallowing outcome and (2) determine the clinical significance of any persistent physiological swallowing deficits by investigating the presence/absence of any coexistent respiratory complications. Seven children with moderate/severe TBI were evaluated via an initial videofluoroscopic swallowing assessment (VFSS) at an average of 24.1 days postinjury, during the acute phase of management. A follow-up VFSS was conducted at an average of 7 months, 3 weeks postinjury. The physiological impairment, swallowing safety, swallowing efficiency, and functional swallowing outcomes of the acute phase post-TBI were compared with reassessment results at 6 months post-TBI. The presence/absence of lower respiratory tract infection/respiratory complications in the past 6 months postinjury were recorded. VFSS revealed a number of residual physiological oropharyngeal swallowing impairments and reduced swallowing efficiency. However, all participants presented with clinically safe and functional swallowing outcomes at 6 months post-TBI, with no recent history of respiratory complication. This study indicates good functional swallowing and respiratory outcomes for patients at 6-months post-TBI despite the presence of persistent physiological swallowing impairment. **********