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Swallowing Therapy

Are you or your loved one having any difficulty swallowing?
Do foods or drinks often go "down the wrong pipe?"
I can help!

  • Swallowing difficulty, or dysphagia, affects approximately 15 million people in the U.S and often results from a variety of neurological conditions such as stroke, traumatic brain injury, brain tumors, Bell's palsy, Cerebral Palsy, Multiple Sclerosis, and other neurodegenerative diseases such as dementia, Parkinson's, and ALS, and survivors of head and neck cancer.

  • Dysphagia often negatively impacts quality of life and may lead to aspiration of foods and drinks (meaning it enters into the airway rather than into the esophagus) and/or aspiration pneumonia, which can be a life threatening condition.

Signs & Symptoms of Dysphagia

  • Food/drinks go down the "wrong pipe"

  • Unexplained/unwanted weight loss

  • Malnutrition

  • Dehydration

  • Recurrent pneumonia

  • Decreased intake / avoiding meals

  • Change in voice or speech

  • Difficulty or prolonged chewing

  • Excess saliva or drooling

  • Food/liquid spilling out of the mouth

  • Poor lip closure

  • Difficulty moving food to the back of your mouth

  • Trouble eliciting a swallow

  • Oral residue in the mouth after the swallow

  • Coughing or throat clearing during intake

  • Choking

  • Wet, gurgly vocal quality

  • Sensation of food "sticking" in your throat or chest

  • Food won't "go down"

  • Regurgitation or vomiting after meals

Dysphagia Evaluation & Treatment

A dysphagia evaluation can help to determine which phase(s) of the swallow are impacted, possible causes, diet texture and liquid consistency modifications and recommendations, instruction in patient-specific compensatory strategies indicated, development of oral motor exercise program to improve swallow function, and determine candidacy for use of

VitalStim Therapy.

Using compensatory swallow strategies during speech and dysphagia therapy session

What is VitalStim Therapy?

  • It is Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation (NMES) and effective treatment method that aids in the retraining of the muscles and stimulates sensory/motor nerves involved in the swallowing process through a set of specifically designed electrodes attached to either the face or neck, or both, depending on the impairment.

  • I usually recommend a swallow study (Modified Barium Swallow examination) to assist with rehabilitation and treatment planning.

  • Repeated use during therapy sessions combined with traditional therapy techniques can help to gradually improve strength, coordination, and efficiency of oral motor functioning, positively impacting their ability to swallow foods and drinks more consistently and safely.

  • Intensive sessions offered 3-5 times per week.

  • Can also be used for patients experiencing dysarthria, or weakness in the oral motor structures that can impact speech production, clarity, preciseness, and intelligibility of speech sounds.

Dysphagia therapy session implementing compensatory strategies at home
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