New swallowing treatments vs. traditional management
Although traditional swallowing maneuvers and changing the consistency of food or beverages can help prevent pneumonia caused by aspiration (food or liquid entering the windpipe), these strategies do nothing to strengthen the muscles used in swallowing. Because of this, traditional dysphagia management 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 efforts. At the Carter Swallowing Center you will work with Jen Carter, a Denver speech pathologist that specializes in advanced dysphagia treatments and swallowing therapies.
New dysphagia treatments build on techniques that physical therapists have been using for years. Biofeedback (surface EMG) and neuromuscular electrical stimulation (e-stim) allow clinicians to increase swallowing exercise intensity, which can improve results.
Read more about Dysphagia, Treatments and What to Expect during swallowing therapy sessions:
Dysphagia and Swallowing Problems Treatment Options
What to Expect During Swallowing Therapy
“Jen gave us hope with VitalStim when we didn’t have anywhere else to turn. My husband’s goal was to taste a banana split, which he eventually achieved. Jen was professional, friendly, and excellent to work with. I would recommend her to anyone.”
Research shows that combining exercise-based treatment with the use of advanced equipment can result in significant improvement in swallowing – even years after the dysphagia began. (Carnaby-Mann, 2008)
How do we maximize exercise results?
By applying the principles of exercise physiology, we are 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. We use sEMG or NMES 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 we “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.
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