ProvidersSiobhan Groves, CF-SLP
Once your swallowing disorder is diagnosed, your voice & swallowing specialist will but together a treatment plan to best suit your needs.
A variety of swallowing treatment techniques are available. They include oral-motor exercises, posture changes, adjusting allowable food consistencies to prevent aspiration, and/or electrical stimulation.
Swallowing treatment may include exercises for the lips, jaw, tongue, soft palate, pharynx, larynx, and respiratory muscles. They can include laryngeal elevation, base of tongue strengthening, the Masako, or tongue hold with swallow, head-lifting exercises, effortful swallow, and lingual isometric exercises.
Postural changes redirect the movement of the food bolus in the oral cavity and pharynx, and may be appropriate for patients with neurological impairments or for patients who are recovering from head and neck cancer surgery and treatments. These may include specific locations for placement of food in the mouth, a chin-down posture, head rotation, and or head tilt.
Swallowing strategies may help to improve the efficiency of the swallow and improve safety. Patients may be asked to take smaller bites or alternate liquids with solids for example. Food consistencies may need to be adjusted for safety. This may include thickening liquids or advising that food be pureed or softer in texture. Dieticians can be consulted to ensure a patient's nutritional needs are met.
VitalStim Therapy is a safe and effective treatment that uses gentle electrical currents to stimulate muscle activity and improve the strength and efficiency of muscles responsible for swallowing. This non-invasive therapy is designed to be used in conjunction with other swallowing exercises and during swallowing of various types of foods in therapy.