Speech-language pathology approaches to neurorehabilitation in acute care during COVID-19: Capitalizing on neuroplasticity

Nicole Langton-Frost, Martin B. Brodsky

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Neurologic manifestations associated with a coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) diagnosis are common and often occur in severe and critically ill patients. In these patients, the neurologic symptoms are confounded by critical care conditions, such as acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Patients with dual diagnoses of COVID-19 and neurologic changes such as myopathy, polyneuropathy, and stroke are likely at a higher risk of experiencing deficits with swallowing, communication, and/or cognition. Speech-language pathologists are an integral part of both the critical care and neurologic disorders multi-disciplinary teams, offering valuable contributions in the evaluation, treatment, and management of these areas. Patients in intensive care units (ICUs) who require mechanical ventilation often experience difficulty with communication and benefit from early speech-language pathology intervention to identify the most efficient communication methods with the medical team and caregivers. Moreover, patients with neurologic manifestations may present with cognitive-linguistic impairments such as aphasia, thereby increasing the need for communication-based interventions. Difficulties with voice and swallowing after extubation are common, often requiring frequent treatment sessions, possibly persisting beyond ICU discharge. After leaving the ICU, patients with COVID-19 often experience physical, cognitive, and mental health impairments collectively called post-intensive care syndrome. This is often a lengthy road as they progress toward full recovery, requiring continued speech-language pathology treatment after hospital discharge, capitalizing on the principles of neuroplasticity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)217-226
Number of pages10
JournalPM and R
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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