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Yale Swallow Protocol

presented by Debra Suiter

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Disclosure Statement:

Financial: Debra Suiter receives compensation from MedBridge for this course. There is no financial interest beyond the production of this course.


 Non-Financial:  Debra Suiter has no competing non-financial interests or relationships with regard to the content presented in this course.

Satisfactory completion requirements: All disciplines must complete learning assessments to be awarded credit, no minimum score required unless otherwise specified within the course.

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Accurate assessment of individuals at risk for dysphagia is critically important because of the negative sequelae that can accompany unrecognized prandial aspiration, including malnutrition, dehydration, and aspiration pneumonia. The first step in identifying swallow disorders is often a swallow screening. At present, there is no consensus amongst healthcare professionals, including speech-language pathologist regarding the optimal means of screening for aspiration risk and/or dysphagia. This course will discuss development of one screening protocol, the Yale Swallow Protocol, developed by Drs. Debra Suiter and Steven Leder.

Meet Your Instructor

Debra Suiter, PhD, CCC-SLP, BCS-S

Debra Suiter is director of the Voice and Swallow Clinic and an associate professor in the Division of Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Kentucky. She earned her master’s and doctoral degrees at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Dr. Suiter has been a speech-language pathologist for 24 years and has…

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Chapters & Learning Objectives

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1. Screening vs. Evaluation

In this chapter, we will discuss the differences between a screening and an evaluation. It is important that clinicians understand what information can and cannot be gleaned from a screening in order for them to make appropriate recommendations for their patients who are at risk for aspiration secondary to dysphagia.

2. Issues Surrounding Screening

In this chapter, we will discuss issues related to screening. Different professional opinions regarding what we’re screening, how we’re screening, and who should screen preclude the adoption of a universally accepted swallow screening tool. It is important that clinicians recognize these issues so that they can critically evaluate currently available screening tools and select the tool that best meets their patients’ needs.

3. The Three Ounce Water Swallow Test

The three-ounce water swallow test is a widely used clinical screening to determine risk of aspiration. This chapter will discuss administration of the three-ounce water swallow test and results of a study by Suiter and Leder regarding the clinical utility of the test. This is important because there is increasing empirical evidence to support the inclusion of a 3-ounce water swallow test as part of a screening protocol.

4. The Yale Swallow Protocol

The Yale Swallow Protocol is an evidence-based swallow screening protocol to determine aspiration risk. This tool has been validated across a number of different patient diagnoses and in a number of clinical settings. This chapter will discuss the components of the Yale Swallow Protocol and the evidence to support inclusion of each. This is important because this tool has been extensively researched and is a valid and reliable means of screening individuals for aspiration risk.

More Courses in this Series

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Assessment of Swallowing in Patients with Trachs

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There is equivocal information in the research literature regarding the effects, if any, tracheostomy tubes have on swallow function. Clinicians are often called upon to evaluate individuals with tracheostomy tubes. However, the optimal means of evaluating swallow function in this population is often debated. This course will review information regarding advantages and disadvantages of currently available tools for assessing swallowing in patients with tracheostomy tubes.

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Do Tracheotomy Tubes Affect Swallowing?

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There is equivocal information in the research literature regarding the effects, if any, tracheostomy tubes have on swallow function. It remains unclear if it is the tracheostomy tube per se that affects swallowing or if it is the underlying medical condition necessitating tracheostomy placement. This course will review research findings and clinical implications of those findings for speech-language pathologists working with individuals with tracheostomy tubes.

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