Department of Special Education and Communication Disorders


Date of this Version



Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery 89:2, Supplement 2 (February 2020), pp. S192–S199.

doi: 10.1097/TA.0000000000002623


Copyright © 2020 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. Used by permission.


Background: Traumatic injuries, such as those from combat-related activities, can lead to complicated clinical presentations that may include dysphagia. Methods: This retrospective observational database study captured dysphagia-related information for 215 US military service members admitted to the first stateside military treatment facility after sustaining combat-related or combat-like traumatic injuries. A multidimensional relational database was developed to document the nature, course, and management for dysphagia in this unique population and to explore variables predictive of swallowing recovery using Bayesian statistical modeling and inferential statistical methods. Results: Bayesian statistical modeling revealed the importance of maxillofacial fractures and soft tissue loss as primary predictors of poor swallowing outcomes. The presence of traumatic brain injury (TBI), though common, did not further complicate dysphagia outcomes. A more detailed examination and rating of videofluoroscopic swallow studies from a subset of 161 participants supported greater impairment for participants with maxillofacial trauma and no apparent relationship between having sustained a TBI and swallow functioning. Conclusion: These analyses revealed that maxillofacial trauma is a stronger indicator than TBI of dysphagia severity and slower or incomplete recovery following combat-related injuries. Level of evidence: Therapeutic/Care Management study, level IV.