New swallowing treatments vs. traditional management
Although traditional management of swallowing problems, such as thickening liquids or doing a chin tuck when swallowing, can help prevent pneumonia caused by food or liquid entering the windpipe, these techniques do nothing to actually improve swallowing function. Because of this, traditional swallowing therapy may leave patients with long-term swallowing restrictions or minimal improvement.
Just as professional athletes work out with personal trainers to maximize their exercise results, patients need swallowing exercise with an expert clinician that knows how to make the most of their therapy. At the Carter Swallowing Center you will work with Jen Carter, a speech pathologist that specializes in advanced swallowing therapy.
New swallowing therapies builds on techniques that physical therapists have been using for years. Biofeedback (surface EMG) and neuromuscular electrical stimulation (VitalStim) allow clinicians to increase swallowing exercise intensity, which can improve therapy results. Read more about the swallowing therapies available at our clinic.
How do we maximize exercise results?
By applying principles of exercise physiology, Jen is able to maximize the effectiveness of the dysphagia swallowing therapy to get faster, better results.
- Exercise intensity– In order for a muscle to get stronger, it must be challenged to increase its strength. During dysphagia therapy, patients swallow foods/liquids that are safe and challenging enough to make the muscles get stronger. Jen uses sEMG or electrical stimulation (VitalStim) during that exercise to further increase the intensity and effectiveness.
- Specificity of exercise– Our dysphagia exercise programs are designed to closely match a normal swallow in terms of how the brain and muscles of the swallowing system are used. This allows the swallow to recover in the way that it is designed, free from abnormal movement patterns.
- Exercise variability– During therapy Jen will “cross-train” the muscles used for swallowing just as a personal trainer may cross-train a professional athlete. This involves exercising the swallowing muscles for both strength as well as speed, both essential qualities of normal swallowing function.
- Evidenced-based practice– As an outpatient clinic that focuses on just swallowing, we are able to stay on the cutting edge of the latest and most effective treatments in swallowing therapy.
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