Eating difficulties, complications and nursing interventions during a period of three months after a stroke
Aim. The aim of this study was to describe eating difficulties and especially swallowing in patients with dysphagia, types of nursing intervention, and the development of complications over 3 months. The aim was also to explore common characteristics of eating difficulties that influenced the ability to finish meals.
Methods. Twenty-four consecutive patients admitted because of stroke and dysphagia were included. Nursing interventions, based on assessments, were individually designed.
Results. Three subgroups could be identified: those (n=9) who were unable to complete a meal, despite assisted feeding, because of reduced alertness/energy and impaired swallowing function; those (n=5) who could complete a meal, despite suffering from reduced alertness/energy; and those (n=10) who could complete meals with minor difficulties. Patients in the first two groups developed complications such as respiratory infections and/or malnutrition. There was a tendency towards that complications in the third group were less frequent and the hospital stay was significantly shorter than in the other groups.
Conclusion. The level of alertness/energy in patients with dysphagia after stroke was important for the ability to eat and swallow and the development of complications over time, and thus of great importance for the interventions applied.