A retrospective study investigated the incidence and types of communication problems in 115 patients referred for swallowing difficulties. Each patient had a bedside swallowing evaluation completed as well as a screening of communication abilities. A formal speech-language evaluation was done when warranted and possible. Of the 115 patients, 93 had suspected swallowing problems based on the bedside evaluation done by the speech-language pathologist. Videofluoroscopy was performed on 85 of these patients. A significant positive correlation was found between communication impairments and both suspected and videofluoroscopically confirmed dysphagia. Cognitive problems were the most frequent communication impairment with dysarthria being second. Neurological diseases were the most common medical diagnoses in patients with swallowing difficulties. The case is presented for the speech-language pathologist to be the primary diagnostician and manager of both communication and oral-pharyngeal swallowing disorders whether they co-occur or not.
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