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Presence Learning Therapy Tools Suite - November 2019

Critical Illness Myopathy

George Barnes, MS, CCC-SLP

May 2, 2022

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Question

What is critical illness myopathy and what does it have to do with tracheostomy and ventilation?

Answer

Critical illness myopathy may occur in a medically complex patient who remains absent from functional activity for an extended period. This patient no longer has the resistance throughout the day needed to build their muscles. 62% of people who become ventilator-dependent begin to have some level of neuromuscular weakness (Shepherd et al., 2016). The reason the SLP needs to be aware of the high incidence of critical illness myopathy in the tracheostomy and ventilator dependent population is that the weakness is often widespread, substantial, and not limited to areas of the body that are below the neck. Lingual, labial, laryngeal, and pharyngeal function is often impacted by critical illness myopathy, causing significant issues with speaking and swallowing. This may lead to increased dependence and higher risks involved with introducing food and liquid; not only because of the high risk of aspiration but also because that aspiration may be more likely to result in a subsequent infection (Langmore et al., 1998 and 2002). 

To learn more about the care of patients with tracheostomy and/or mechanical ventilation and the role of the SLP, refer to SpeechPathology.com course, 20Q: Beyond the Swallow: Tracheostomy Tube and Ventilator Management


george barnes

George Barnes, MS, CCC-SLP

George Barnes MS CCC-SLP has developed an expertise in dysphagia with a focus on diagnostics in the medically complex population through his dedication to a variety of medical settings. George yearns to make education useful, research clinical-focused, and quality care accessible. His coaching program with FEESible Swallow Solutions supports SLPs with the guidance they need to reach their clinical and career goals. He co-founded a mobile FEES service to bring the highest quality assessment to the patient's bedside. His webinars bridge research and patient care. George strives to go beyond the swallow in dysphagia management by looking at the whole patient which is evident in his work on a pneumonia risk calculator. With a passion for food and a deep appreciation for the joy and connection it gives to our lives, he has dedicated his life to helping others enjoy this simple, but deep-rooted pleasure.


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