Case Report

Oropharyngeal dysphagia telerehabilitation in the Intensive Care Unit for COVID-19: a case report

Shigeto Soyama; Tomoo Mano; Akira Kido

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The face-to-face assessment of and training for dysphagia are considered aerosol-generating procedures, and thus are contraindicated for patients who are positive or suspected of having severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 infection. Considering the extremely infectious nature of the virus, transmission to other individuals during rehabilitation is possible. Some patients in the intensive care unit and those who are on endotracheal intubation and mechanical ventilation often have dysphagia. Therefore, assessment and training for oropharyngeal dysphagia are provided by rehabilitation professionals to restore normal feeding before patient discharged. Thus, we aimed to explore the advantages of telerehabilitation in dysphagia management during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. An infected 50-year-old man admitted to the hospital underwent extracorporeal membrane oxygenation rescue therapy and tracheostomy. Upon gradual respiratory status stabilization, extracorporeal membrane oxygenation therapy was discontinued, and he was weaned off the ventilator. He had difficulty swallowing and coughed after attempting to drink fluids. We considered the application of telerehabilitation for managing dysphagia while minimizing the risk of infection and usage of personal protective equipment. A videoconferencing software on a tablet device provided contactless telerehabilitation, thus reducing the risk of infection and preventing personal protective equipment shortage. Moreover, it facilitates discussion on the issues related to the evaluation of oropharyngeal dysphagia telerehabilitation. We highlight important considerations for the application of telerehabilitation in the assessment and treatment of dysphagia during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Coronavirus Infections; COVID-19; Oropharyngeal Dysphagia; Swallowing Disorders; Rehabilitation; Telerehabilitation; Ventilation


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