top of page

Swallowing and Voice Outcomes in Patients Hospitalized With COVID-19

Updated: Nov 28, 2022

If there is any silver lining to the recent pandemic, it’s that data about that pandemic, and by possible extension other pandemics, has accrued across every medical discipline. That includes speech and language pathology. An observational cohort study* in London’s Guy's and St Thomas Hospital, a large inner-city National Health Service facility, recently evaluated presentations and outcomes in inpatients with COVID-19, particularly with regard to dysphonia and dysphagia. The investigation was part of an effort to inform potential pathways for ongoing care.

The patient cohort consisted of all adults hospitalized who were also referred to Speech and Language Therapy (SLT) for voice and/or swallowing assessment for 2 months starting in April 2020.

Patients (N=164; 104 men) aged 56.8±16.7 years were assessed. Half (52.4%) had a tracheostomy, 78.7% had been intubated, 13.4% had new neurologic impairment, and 69.5% were delirious. Compensatory strategies were undertaken in all patients, and direct exercises undertaken with 11%. Baseline assessments showed marked impairments in dysphagia and voice, but there was significant improvement in all patients in the course of the study. Most patients were eating and drinking normally on discharge, but 29.3% of those with dysphagia and 56.1% of those with dysphonia remained impaired. 70.9% of the tracheostomized patients were decannulated, median time 19 days. 37.3% in all completed SLT. 23.5% were transferred to another hospital, 17.1% had ongoing voice therapy, and 7.8% required follow-up for dysphagia.

COVID-19 patients can present with significant impairments in voice and swallowing, is the lesson. And they typically improve with assessment and individualized compensatory strategies. Services preparing for COVID-19 should be prepared for tracheostomy weaning, and referral pathways for dysphagia and dysphonia.

*Archer SK, Iezzi CM, Gilpin L. Swallowing and Voice Outcomes in Patients Hospitalized With COVID-19: An Observational Cohort Study. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2021 Jun;102(6):1084-1090. doi: 10.1016/j.apmr.2021.01.063.

MyoNews from BreatheWorksTM is a report on trends and developments in oromyofunctional disorder and therapy. These updates are not intended as diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease or syndrome.

7 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Title: Surgical and Speech Therapy Evaluation of Lingual Frenulum Introduction: The lingual frenulum, also known as the tongue tie, is a small band of tissue that connects the underside of the tongue

Title: Prevalence of Laryngeal Muscle Tension in Patients With Obstructive Sleep Apnea Introduction: Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a common sleep disorder characterized by repeated episodes of part

Title: Orofacial Dysfunction Screening Examinations in Children with Sleep-Disordered Breathing Symptoms Introduction: Sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) is a common condition among children that can ha

bottom of page