In an interview on the Rusk Insights on Rehabilitation Medicine podcast, Tina M. Tan, MS, CCC-SLP, BCS-S, supervisor of pediatric speech and swallowing services for Rusk, spoke about treating medically-complex patients and applying the latest research in the field.
With craniofacial disorders, there are anatomical differences to the structures of the mouth, the face, the airway, and how those will impact the child’s ability to feed safely and efficiently. With these types of children, we consider all the different aspects of their care, including what surgical interventions may be taking place in their future, and how we can get them to have the experience of eating and swallowing safely and have it be pleasurable so that they don’t develop a negative response, such as a feeding aversion or maladaptive behaviors to oral feeding. Additionally, we have to ensure that we have a nutrition and hydration plan in place that allows the child to gain weight, grow, and be stable so that they will be good candidates for the future surgical procedures that they may have to undergo.
On current research in pediatric speech and swallowing therapy and new techniques:
We sometimes assess children’s feeding and swallowing mechanics via a videofluoroscopic swallow study, and research is underway to standardize the interpretation of that study for bottle-fed infants.
Continued efforts investigating the efficacy of some of our interventions and treatments are important such as oral motor exercises and modifications. At Rusk, we are starting to look at a causal relationship between aspiration and severity of lung disease. There are many different areas for future research that can have great impact on the management of feeding and swallowing impairments in children.
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