Penny Welch-West M.Cl.Sc. SLP (C), Jo-Anne Aubut BA, Norine Foley MSc, and Robert Teasell MD
Dysphagia is defined as difficulty or discomfort with swallowing. Morgan and Ward (2001) have noted that traumatic brain injury associated with focal and diffuse cortical and brainstem damage, may impair swallowing ability and lead to the development of dysphagia and aspiration. “Adequate nutrition for patients with severe head injury during primary care, as well as in the acute rehabilitation unit, is an important part of medical management” (Denes, 2004). While clinicians sometimes disregard a patient’s nutritional condition, it can often have a critical impact on the patient’s recovery process and final outcome (Elovic, 2000). The nutritional management of patients recovering from ABI presents many challenges. Despite the efforts of the clinicians, several factors make is difficult to avoid malnutrition in ABI patients, beginning with the metabolic changes that occur post-injury (Elovic, 2000).