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Special report

Speech-language pathologists´ role in the multi-disciplinary management and rehabilitation of patients with COVID-19

Bijoyaa Mohapatra, Ranjini Mohan
Communication Disorders, New Mexico State University, , 88011 Las Cruces, New Mexico, USA.
DOI: 10.2340/20030711-1000037

Abstract

Respiratory and neurological complications in patients in various stages of COVID-19 emphasize the role of speech-language pathologists in the assessment and management of swallowing and communication deficits in these patients. The speech-language pathologist works within a multidisciplinary team to identify these deficits, and aims to improve swallowing, nutrition, hydration, speech, and quality of life in the medical the settings. This paper describes the unique symptoms and complications associated with COVID-19 that require speech-language pathologist services in medical (acute care, inpatient, and outpatient rehabilitation) facilities. The speech-language pathologist is primarily responsible for dysphagia screening and diagnosis in the acute care units, dysphagia and tracheostomy management in the inpatient units, and swallowing, speech and voice rehabilitation and neurocognitive management in the outpatient units. This paper also discusses the current therapeutic services and the precautions that speech-language pathologists must take to reduce transmission of the virus.

Lay Abstract

The role of speech-language pathologists in assessing and managing swallowing, cognition, and communication in patients with COVID-19 is not yet widely understood. This paper provides a perspective of the field, and the role of speech-language pathologists in providing services in healthcare facilities to patients tested positive for coronavirus. The paper also explains the unique symptoms and complications associated with COVID-19 that require speech-language pathologists’ services in medical facilities. It also describes the current procedures and guidelines for speech-language pathologists in order to reduce contraction and transmission of the virus, and highlights current alternative platforms, such as tele-medicine, for therapeutic services.

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