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Authors

  1. Blackwell, Zara
  2. Littlejohns, Penelope

ABSTRACT

Dysphagia is an impairment of swallowing associated with neurological diseases, including stroke. Identification is vitally important but can be difficult because stroke patients with dysphagia rarely perceive that they have a swallowing problem. Assessments of swallowing are not consistently carried out by medical or nursing staff, and often, there are unclear lines of responsibility as to which patients should be referred to a speech-language pathologist. This study measured the prevalence, assessment, and management of dysphagia in three private rehabilitation clinics in South Africa. Findings indicated a prevalence of dysphagia in 56% of patients following stroke, a number far exceeding previously reported statistics. This number may have been inflated due to conservative swallowing assessments given the subjective measures commonly utilized in South Africa, a product of the often-limited availability of imaging technology. All three clinics evidenced a strong multidisciplinary approach in the care and management of dysphagia patients. These findings highlight the need for increased education of collaboration between speech-language pathologists and nursing staff and support the need for future research in the field of poststroke dysphagia.