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Swallowing function is essential for sustaining life and important for social interaction and wellbeing. Someone with difficulty swallowing has a condition called Dysphagia, which effects an estimated 15 million Americans. Dysphagia interrupts the normal process of eating, drinking, swallowing pills and sometimes ones own saliva. Problems can exist in the areas of oral management of food/liquids/saliva, initiation of timely swallow, and passage of food/liquids/pills safely through the throat and esophagus. It can occur as a result of neurological conditions, respiratory illnesses, weak/deconditioned muscles, cancer, and more. Dysphagia is a serious disorder that can lead to lung infections such as pneumonia, choking, weight loss, regurgitation, and dehydration.

Pathways Speech Therapy outpatient clinic offers fiberoptic endoscopic evaluation of swallowing (FEES), an initial diagnostic test for swallowing dysfunction. If treatment is warranted, we provide evidenced-based interventions in individualized therapy programs. Neuromuscular electrical stimulation with VitalStim therapy, is a well-researched modality we use as one treatment approach  for dysphagia. Devon is also certified in the McNeill Dysphagia Therapy Program (MDTP), which takes the patient through a systematic hierarchy of progression using exercise science and eating. Traditional interventions are also used, and all therapeutic approaches involve strengthening swallowing muscles, training in compensatory swallowing strategies when appropriate, establishing appropriate food textures/liquid consistencies and educational discussions. 

Signs of swallowing disorder often include:

  • Coughing after swallowing food/liquids/pills

  • Excessive throat clearing

  • Regurgitation

  • Choking

  • Inadequate chewing

  • Pocketing food in mouth

  • Pneumonia

  • Wet vocal quality when eating/drinking

  • Runny nose and/or watery eyes when eating/drinking

  • Sensation of food being "stuck" in throat or esophagus


“After my stroke I wasn't able to eat safely. I also coughed when I drank liquids. Devon helped me to improve my swallowing muscles and gave me back the ability to enjoy meals". 


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