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Swallowing Therapy

What could happen if you have difficulties swallowing?

  • Aspiration pneumonia develops when food/liquid enters the lungs
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Malnutrition happens when the body doesn't get enough nutrients
  • Dehydration happens when the body doesn't have enough water

Who might have a swallowing problem?

  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  • Brain injury (TBI)
  • Dementia
  • Head/neck cancer
  • Head/neck trauma
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Stroke
  • Vocal cord pathology

What are the symptoms of a swallowing problem?

  • Unable to hold food/liquids in your mouth
  • Trouble chewing
  • Trouble moving food/liquids from the front to the back of your mouth
  • Difficulty starting a swallow
  • Sensation of food stuck in the throat while eating
  • Coughing/choking while eating/drinking
  • Pain when swallowing
  • Wet voice after swallowing
  • Difficulty breathing while eating
  • Recurrent aspiration pneumonia

How do you find treatment?

  • Get a referral from your physician
  • You will then be evaluated by a physiatrist (a medical doctor specializing in physical medicine and rehabilitation) and a speech-language pathologist
  • A detailed medical and swallowing history will be taken
  • You will be observed eating/drinking different foods and liquids
  • If needed, a Modified Barium Swallow Study aka Video Evaluation of the Swallow may be recommended
  • This is a relatively short exam, where an x-ray machine (operated by a radiologist) takes images of the mouth and throat while the patient is swallowing different consistencies of foods/liquids coated in barium

Swallowing Therapy may be recommended if a swallowing problem is identified. Our highly skilled speech-language pathologists are trained to develop an individualized plan to effectively treat your swallowing issues.

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