What better way to start June, Dysphagia Awareness Month, than to kick it off with a post about swallowing evaluation. Heck, the whole month will be dedicated to swallowing evaluation!!
One important part of evaluating a patient is the Clinical Swallowing Evaluation. I know, all we read or hear anymore is about instrumental exams. Instrumental exams are crucial to identifying the deficits or lack thereof in the pharynx. The Clinical Swallow Evaluation is actually the key to identifying those that need the instrumental examination.
The patient/family interview will actually be extremely important during this phase of you evaluation. I can’t tell you how many times, when working in the acute care hospital, I went to see a patient because they had choked on food. Upon chart review and interview of the cognitively intact patient, found that the patient had choked once that they can remember. They choked that morning on a piece of granola bar. Since the doctor asked them about choking they mentioned that, which prompted a dysphagia evaluation.
Now, I’m not going to be dragging that person down to Xray or pulling out the scope quite yet. After a thorough Clinical Swallow Evaluation, I determined that this person required no further testing but made sure they knew to speak with their doctor or nurse should they have any further issues.
There’s also the case of the person that was brought down to Xray, from the ICU while a nurse walked with them, bagging them to assist with breathing. This person may have required a Modified Barium Swallow Study at some point in time, but that was not the time. Breathing will always trump swallowing and at that moment, the person needed to get the breathing under control.
This month will be filled with all parts of the Clinical Swallow Evaluation. Parts including the Cranial Nerve Exam, Peak Flow, how to conduct the interview, etc.
Plus, don’t be discouraged if you didn’t win a copy of the Adult Dysphagia Pocketguide! You have a chance every month for the rest of this year!!!
Thank you for joining me on this wonderful ride!