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Communication intervention, sudden speechlessness, acute care setting

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Healthcare staff face significant challenges while caring for hospitalized patients experiencing sudden inability to verbalize their needs (sudden speechlessness). Familiar methods of communication such as non-verbal strategies are limited and often fail to assist suddenly speechless patients (SS) communicate their needs. Consequently, strategies tailored to the needs of hospitalized speechless patients are necessary, and must consider factors intrinsic to the patients and the complexities of the acute care environment. The feasibility and usability of a multi-functional prototype communication system (speech-generating device) tailored to the needs of hospitalized SS patients was evaluated in this pilot study. Adult SS patients admitted to the intensive care setting (n=11) demonstrated independent use of a multi-functional communication system that integrated messages and strategies tailored to the needs of the hospitalized SS patient. Participants reported high satisfaction levels and considered the use of the technology of high importance during an SS event. Additional research should focus on evaluating the impact of technology specific communication interventions on enhancing the communication process between SS patients and healthcare staff.

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Technology and Health Care, v. 20, issue 6, p. 519-530

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