Abstract Information


Pediatric Spinal Cord Injury: Quality of Life Enhancement Through Learning to Eat and Speak Again

Maldonado K, Peck K
Children's Hospital Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, United states of america

Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs) play an essential role in acute rehabilitation of swallowing disorders, voice and respiration impairment, and communication following Spinal Cord Injury (SCI). SCI impacts approximately 17,000 individuals per year in the US; average age of onset at 42.(1) Pediatric SCI prevalence rates remain rather low in comparison to adults with incidence in children representative of less than 4% of the overall occurrences annually. However, the physical and psychological consequences of injuries sustained at a young age may negatively impact cognitive development, sensory-motor function, and quality of life (QOL).

This seminar will highlight how children who suffer SCI experience altered QOL and the negative impact on infant-caregiver dyad that ensues. Approximately 80% of acute admissions for SCI are diagnosed with mild to moderate dysphagia (swallow dysfunction),(2) increasing risk of hypoxemia, bronchospasms, atelectasis, and aspiration pneumonia. Dysphagia associated factors (restricted diet, enteral tubes, daily care needs) may negative impact QOL. Speakers will discuss physiologic and biomechanical changes specific to children with SCI. Instrumental assessments, including Modified Barium Swallow Studies (MBSS) and Fiberoptic Endoscopic Evaluation of Swallowing (FEES) videos will be reviewed. Therapy clips and hands on exercises highlighting evidence based techniques (i.e. assisted cough techniques(2), one-way valve, abdominal binders, augmentative and alternative communication(AAC) devices) employed to facilitate speech, voice, and swallow will be used to increase awareness of equipment and strategies used by SLPs. The impact of limited environmental access and options for high-level communication due to sensorimotor impairments will be evaluated from the perspective of the child and caregiver.


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