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Changes in the dysphagia and nutritional status of patients with brain injury.

AIMS AND OBJECTIVES: To evaluate the degree of improvement in the dysphagia and nutritional status of patients with brain injuries after removal of the nasogastric tube.

BACKGROUND: The nurse should assess patients' dysphagia, after removal of the nasogastric tube, and immediately reflect the changes in patient care. Accordingly, the critical roles of nurses in caring for patients with dysphagia involve providing appropriate nutritional therapy as well as preventing aspiration pneumonia and nutritional imbalance. Assessment of the patient's dysphagia on a regular basis and analysis of nutritional status according to the degree of dysphagia are necessary to determine the appropriate timing for providing nursing interventions and to develop protocols for the provision of a therapeutic diet.

DESIGN: Prospective observational study.

METHODS: This study was conducted on 56 patients with dysphagia after a brain injury. Data were collected using the Gugging Swallowing Screen (GUSS) test and Swallowing Symptom Questionnaire (SSQ). Descriptive statistics, chi-square tests, t tests, and MANOVA were analysed using SPSS 22.0.

RESULTS: Patient's dysphagia was observed over the course of 2 weeks. After 14 days, the severity of dysphagia decreased from 91.1%-35.7%, while the number of participants with normal swallowing increased from 1.8%-58.9%. Dysphagia in patients with brain injury improved gradually over time. A significant difference was observed in the serum albumin level of patients with dysphagia (F = 9.51, p = .003, Wilk's λ = .034).

CONCLUSIONS: Most of the patients with brain injury developed moderate dysphagia immediately after removal of the nasogastric tube. However, after 14 days had elapsed, the percentage of patients recovering from dysphagia increased to 58.9%. Proper dietary patterns were not adequately provided depending on the degree of patient's dysphagia after removal of the nasogastric tube. Assessing the degree of dysphagia using the GUSS test and providing appropriate diet prevent malnutrition in patients with dysphagia.

RELEVANCE TO CLINICAL PRACTICE: This study was conducted in patients who developed complications of dysphagia after a brain injury. Using the Gugging Swallowing Screen (GUSS) test, the changes in the degree of dysphagia were repeatedly measured at different times: 4, 7 and 14 days after the removal of the nasogastric tube. Provision of appropriate diet and changes in the nutritional status were analysed to determine the proper timing for nursing intervention in patients with dysphagia. The data obtained from this study could serve as a basis for developing diet provision protocols for patients with dysphagia.

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