dysphagia/Swallowing Therapy

What is dysphagia?

Dysphagia refers to difficulty swallowing due to various medical conditions that damage sensation, weaken muscle strength or cause dis-coordination of the muscles involved in swallowing.  Dysphagia can affect one's ability to safely and efficiently consume food or liquids.

What causes dysphagia?

  • Congenital abnormalities
  • CVA
  • Head and neck cancers
  • Neurological diseases
  • Structural damage

What are the symptoms?

  • Feeding aversions
  • Inability to recognize food
  • Difficulty placing food in the mouth
  • Difficulty controlling food or saliva in the mouth
  • Coughing during eating or drinking
  • Recurrent pneumonia
  • Weight loss
  • Gurgly voice

What should I do If I have dysphagia?

Your health care provider may refer you to a speech pathologist.  Speech pathologists can frequently help alleviate symptoms of dysphagia and improve swallow function and safety.  Your therapy will emphasize:

  • Correctly identifying contributing factors in dysphagia.
  • Designing, training and implementing an individualized exercise program to improve muscle function.
  • Identifying possible compensatory strategies to improve safety and function
  • Strategies to increase diet tolerance and improve quality of life.
  • Suggestions for maintenance of hydration and nutrition
  • Caregiver training as needed

In many cases, a Modified Barium Swallow Study (MBSS) (also referred to as videofluoroscopic swallowing study or VFSS) is necessary to identify the pharyngeal components in your dysphagia.  Your health care provider may refer you for a MBSS.  If an MBSS has been previously completed, the results can be incorporated into a comprehensive rehabilitation plan.  We are happy to coordinate with other healthcare providers such as ENT’s, nutritionists and others to ensure you the highest level of care.

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