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The Consequences of Critical Care on Swallowing

presented by Martin B. Brodsky, PhD, ScM, CCC-SLP

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Disclosure Statement:

Financial: Martin Brodsky receives compensation from MedBridge for this course. There is no financial interest beyond the production of this course.

Non-Financial: Martin Brodsky has no competing non-financial interests or relationships with regard to the content presented in this course.

Satisfactory completion requirements: All disciplines must complete learning assessments to be awarded credit, no minimum score required unless otherwise specified within the course.

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Accreditation Check:

Would you believe that, after life sustaining treatments and comfort considerations, swallowing is priority #1 among patients who are critically ill? You'd better! Patients surviving critical care with dysphagia may be a challenge for even the most experienced clinicians, especially when considering the presence and dynamics of various medical therapies and medication effects, intubation with mechanical ventilation, and cognitive, mental, and other physical impairments. Timely and meaningful assessments lead to the creation of a comprehensive care plan. Evidence-based treatments for dysphagia that are provided by a well-integrated, multi-disciplinary, goal-directed, and efficient team will provide the most favorable of patient outcomes.

Meet Your Instructor

Martin B. Brodsky, PhD, ScM, CCC-SLP

Martin B. Brodsky is an assistant professor in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and a member of the Outcomes After Critical Illness and Surgery (OACIS) Group, a multidisciplinary clinical and research group dedicated to understanding and improving patient outcomes after critical illness and surgery, at Johns Hopkins University. He earned his PhD at…

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Chapters & Learning Objectives

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1. Aging and Health Care

You need to know where you’ve been (and where you are) to know where you’re going. Understanding that the impact of health care changes across the world, let alone your own backyard, will prepare you for the future. This brief introduction sheds new light on the ever-growing population of older adults and the demands they will place on younger generations. Specifically, this introduction describes the distribution of dysphagia research across the age spectrum.

2. Epidemiology of Intubation and Dysphagia in Critical Care

Fact: intubation with mechanical ventilation saves lives. But at what cost to the patient and the health care system? This chapter delves into the very real costs of critical care, whether the risk of adverse events, financial, mental/emotional, cognitive, and/or physical.

3. Swallowing and Endotracheal Intubation

Only a subset of patients who are critically ill will be intubated with mechanical ventilation. Although this routine procedure saves lives, it concurrently reduces quality of life, often long after the tube has been removed. This chapter introduces you to the aftermath that is post-extubation dysphagia.

4. Research Quality and Perspectives of Practice

Research is not perfect. In fact, every research article printed in a peer-reviewed publication has its shortcomings. Critical review is necessary to distinguish the merits of a body of evidence to determine the clinical application. This chapter critically reviews historical research on post-extubation dysphagia, but balances this much-biased literature with several contemporary studies that provide more well-controlled evidence while emphasizing clinical application.

5. Outcomes and Challenges

This chapter bases its discussion on 5-year longitudinal data on survivors’ symptoms of dysphagia after critical care and two illustrative cases studies and their videofluoroscopic swallow studies that took place while admitted to the intensive care unit. With real cases as a backdrop, clinicians are then provided tips and hints for successful intensive care unit (ICU) interactions, specifically with dysphagia in mind. Finally, patient, clinician, and medical care/system challenges are presented with practical hints to overcome some of the adversity clinicians face.

6. Final Thoughts and Discussion

Short and to-the-point, this chapter summarizes the barriers to the integration of post-ICU care, reminding clinicians that while we may think we know a lot about swallowing with respect to the populations of patients in critical care, in fact, we are only just beginning. Much more information is needed, especially in an aging world with reduced awareness of dysphagia in ICUs, virtually no rehabilitative treatments and few well-controlled studies. The course concludes with a discussion with Dr. Robert Miller from the University of Washington.

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