Oral feeding in Huntington’s disease: a guideline document for speech and language therapists

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Speech and language therapy has an important role in the management of Huntington’s disease.
Management of oral feeding difficulties in Huntington’s disease is a challenge but implementation
of a systematic program of intervention can improve swallow safety and efficiency and reduce the
occurrence of pneumonia.
Early referral to speech and language therapy is recognized as good practice. It facilitates
accumulation of baseline data, which aid clinical decision making on timely assessment and/
or intervention. This is crucial in Huntington’s disease because of the multiple factors involved,
In early-stage disease the individual with Huntington’s disease may have no symptoms of dysphagia
but speech and language therapists may still have a role in the provision of information and advice.
In mid-stage disease there is wide variability in the presentation of oral feeding difficulties and
regular assessment and review is required to identify changes and their impact.
There is significant overlap in presenting oral feeding difficulties in the mid and late stages and as
the disease progresses the challenge of maintaining adequate nutrition and hydration becomes
greater due to the complexities involved.
The speech and language therapist will contribute to the discussions and multidisciplinary decision
making regarding non-oral feeding/supported feeding. Decisions should involve the individual and
significant carers, the discussions.

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