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*Poster 16: What do Practicing Speech-Language Pathologists Know About Minimally Conscious State: Results of a Pilot Survey

      Objective: To investigate the knowledge base of practicing speech-language pathologists (SLPs) regarding patients in a low level stage of coma secondary to traumatic brain injury (TBI), and examine SLPs' opinions about the tools they have available to them to make diagnostic and prognostic statements for this patient population. Design: Survey research. Setting: Online survey. Participants: Practicing SLPs. Interventions: A 50-question survey designed to elicit information regarding clinical experience, knowledge of the various stages of severe TBI, and the respondent's level of confidence in making diagnostic and prognostic statements regarding cognition and communication for patients in minimally conscious state (MCS). Because accurate assessment for patients in MCS is vital while in the earliest stages of recovery, the survey targeted clinicians working in hospital settings. Main Outcome Measures: Survey data were compiled to determine (1) the SLP's knowledge of and intervention with MCS, and (2) the SLP's role in making diagnostic, prognostic, and discharge recommendations for patients in MCS. Results: Initial results from the pilot study show that 33% of SLPs surveyed accurately defined MCS. Regarding SLPs' intervention for patients in MCS, 55% feel their evaluation of patients in MCS is helpful, but inaccurately reflects the severity of the patient's injury; 33% report their evaluation is appropriate and accurately reflects the severity of the patient's injury, 11% report they feel their evaluation of patients in MCS is inappropriate and not helpful in reflecting the severity of the patient's injury, and 50% of clinicians report rarely feeling comfortable making prognostic statements for the return of functional communication skills in patients in MCS. Conclusions: SLPs need more education regarding the diagnostic criteria and prognostic indicators for patients in MCS. Appropriate diagnosis has implications for appropriate treatment planning and discharge placement.

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