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

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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.


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.


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.


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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