The speaking valve is one of the options for oral communication for tracheostomized patients, especially in ICUs. It is a one-way device that is placed onto the tracheotomy tube. Its fine membrane opens during inspiration, allowing air to enter the tracheotomy tube, and closes during expiration, so that air is directed to trachea and vocal folds producing a voice.
According to the literature, placement of a speaking valve provides many benefits to the patient: facilitation of voicing, even in ventilator-dependent patients, facilitation of deglutition, use of the upper airway, which improves the ability to cough and manage secretions, improvement of olfaction and taste, and others.
To verify patient perception of the speaking-valve benefits and compare it with available literature data.
A questionnaire was given to a group of 20 inpatients at the Intensive Therapy Unit of Hospital Albert Einstein who had been using the speaking valve for at least 2 weeks, introduced by the speech and language pathologist. A list of possible benefits described in the literature was presented and patients could fill a column choosing one of three possibilities: better/worse/same after the introduction of the speaking valve.
The primary results show that the restoration of oral communication is the primary benefit of the one-way valve for these patients (70%), followed by improvement of deglutition (60%) and even anxiety control (60%). Better quality of life was reported by 90% of the patients. The other findings are being collected and will be discussed further.
The speaking valve was shown to be a well-acceptable device for patients in the ITU who used it, and assisted in improving patient quality of life, according to the patient perspective.