What is a typical swallowing treatment session?
A swallowing treatment program is custom designed for each patient and may last from 30-60 minutes per session. Most patients require 10-15 therapy sessions at the Carter Swallowing Center to reach their full swallowing potential. Some patients require more or less sessions depending on the severity level when treatment begins.
The most effective exercise for swallowing is swallowing as this strengthens the muscles in the way they are designed to be used. The food and drinks swallowed during therapy are expertly chosen with regards to what is safe for the patient to swallow while also providing a challenge to the swallowing muscles for strengthening. During the exercise, speech pathologist Jen Carter applies the appropriate state-of-the-art equipment, such as VitalStim (neuromuscular electrical stimulation) and/or sEMG biofeedback, which have been proven to maximize the effectiveness of therapy. Read more about Swallowing Treatment Options
Patients are also given a home exercise program to do between sessions to further speed up the recovery process.
Family members are welcome to attend the therapy sessions.
I had extreme choking following neck surgery and was discouraged with lack of progress and being told it would get better with time–6 months later I still had little change. I was fortunate to be referred to Carter Swallowing Clinic where I had a thorough evaluation and identification of my problem.
After 4 weeks of therapy and some homework, I can now enjoy eating almost all foods and feel I can eat in public again! Jenifer Carter was delightful to work with and extremely professional and patient. Being a nurse in a related field, I know many therapy centers and programs and this is far and above the most individualized, advanced therapy available.
- Nancy Martinets, RN
Other Common Questions Regarding Dysphagia Treatment:
How will my swallowing be evaluated?
Before your first appointment at the Carter Swallowing Center, we will contact your medical insurance and let you know your insurance benefit for the swallowing evaluation and treatment. We will also be in contact with your physician to obtain a complete overview of the medical history related to your swallowing difficulty or speech condition.
A swallowing evaluation consists of 2 parts: a clinical swallowing evaluation in our clinic and a Modified Barium Swallow study (MBS) in radiology immediately following your examination. By combining these 2 assessments, we can accurately identify the specific cause of your swallowing difficulty to effectively determine the course of treatment needed for your recovery.
During the clinical swallowing evaluation, your speech pathologist, Jen Carter, will have you describe your swallowing problems and goals for treatment and will assess the strength and movement of your swallowing muscles. She will answer any questions you have and address your concerns as well.
Immediately following the assessment in our clinic, Jen will complete the evaluation with a Modified Barium Swallow study in the Swedish Medical Center radiology department, which is less than a ½ mile from the Carter Swallowing Center.
During the MBS, the radiologist takes moving x-ray images of the mouth and throat while you swallow food and liquid mixed with barium. The MBS allows us to see specifically what is happening to the food/drink inside your mouth and throat when you swallow and also let us see which muscles are not properly functioning so that we can plan the appropriate swallowing treatment. Click here to see an MBS of a normal swallow.
What if I also have problems with my speech or voice?
Many patients with swallowing difficulty also experience problems with their voice or speech since the same muscles are used for both swallowing and speaking. In addition to Denver speech pathologist Jen Carter’s clinical expertise with swallowing, she also has 18 years of experience treating speech difficulties. This experience includes working at the University of Colorado Hospital and the nationally renowned Craig Hospital in Denver. Many of the exercises used in therapy benefit both the swallowing and speech systems, and many patients receive therapy for both swallowing and voice problems during the same sessions.
If you are experiencing difficulty with your voice, your evaluation will include an instrumental assessment of your voice to record your pre-therapy functioning and to obtain objective details about your voice (pitch, loudness, quality) to measure progress in therapy.
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