Evidence- and Consensus-Based Guidelines for the Management of Communication and Swallowing Disorders Following Pediatric Traumatic Brain Injury

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Abstract

Objective:

Evidence-based management guidelines for communication and swallowing disorders following pediatric traumatic brain injury (TBI) are scarcely available, potentially resulting in suboptimal outcomes. To improve clinical care of this population, a multidisciplinary guideline development committee was formed to develop evidence-based recommendation (EBR) and consensus-based recommendation (CBR) for the management of speech, language, and swallowing disorders during the first year of recovery.

Methods:

A 3-round Delphi survey was completed by the committee to reach agreement (80% consensus) for the CBRs. Systematic review evidence guided development of EBRs, devised using the National Health and Medical Research Council statement form.

Results:

Altogether, 30 recommendations (5 EBRs and 25 CBRs) were developed to guide management of speech, language, and swallowing disorders, including prediction of these disorders; health team required, optimal timing of assessment; assessment tools; intervention strategies and commencement of treatment; and key information to support parents.

Conclusion:

The developed recommendations provide a basis for the systematic management of communication and swallowing disorders to be refined as new evidence emerges. Key recommendations include screening of children with moderate/severe TBI for these disorders acutely using specified measures. Patients with severe TBI and prolonged ventilation are a particular at-risk group and should be considered for early referral to speech–language pathology to support timely diagnosis and management. No evidence was identified to support an EBR for treatment, highlighting a key area for research.

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