The aim of this study was to describe the types and extent of eating difficulties, the need for assistance when eating, the nutritional status and pressure ulcers in consecutive patients (n = 162) admitted for stroke rehabilitation over a period of 1 year. Structured observations and assessments of eating, nutritional status (subjective global assessment of nutritional status), pressure ulcers and activities in daily living (Katz ADL-index) were performed by a nurse who also trained the staff to perform these assessments. Difficulties in eating were found in 80%, and 52.5% were unable to eat without assistance. Eating difficulties were: 'eats three-quarters or less of served food' (60%), difficulties in 'manipulating food on the plate' (56%), 'transportation of food to the mouth' (46%), 'sitting position' (29%), 'aberrant eating speed' (slow or forced) (26%), 'manipulating food in the mouth' (leakage, hoarding, chewing difficulties) (24%), 'swallowing difficulties' (18%), 'opening and/or closing the mouth' (16%), and 'alertness' (9%). Thirty-two percent were undernourished (49% of patients needing assisted eating and 13% of those not needing assistance, P < 0.0005). Among patients who were dependent in one or more functions according to the Katz ADL-index, 15% had pressure ulcers. The strongest eating variables for predicting nutritional status were 'alertness', 'swallowing difficulties', 'eats three-quarters or less of served food', and 'aberrant eating speed'. Nutritional status could in turn significantly predict pressure ulcers. Eating difficulties among patients with stroke are complex and the patient's situation before stroke adds to this complexity, especially among those dependent on assisted eating. As difficulties occur both among patients needing and not needing assisted eating, all patients with stroke admitted for rehabilitation need to be systematically assessed for eating difficulties and action needs to be taken to facilitate eating, especially as patients with eating difficulties risk becoming undernourished and in turn developing pressure ulcers.
- Medicin och hälsovetenskap (3)