Dysphagia, or difficulty in swallowing, may include difficulty in chewing, drooling and emptying the mouth. Food and liquids may also enter the airway resulting in either laryngeal penetration or aspiration. Dysphagia may have serious health implications including pneumonia, malnutrition, dehydration, reflux and weight loss.
An estimated 6 to 10 million Americans suffer from some degree of dysphagia, where more than 40 percent of patients in acute rehabilitation settings are dysphagic.
Dysphagia can result from:
- Congenital or acquired neurological damage such as cerebral palsy, stroke, or head injury
- Treatment for head and neck cancer
- Progressive neurologic diseases such as Parkinson’s disease
- Myasthenia gravis
- Motor neuron disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Systemic disease such as scleroderma and dermatomyositis
Efficacy studies indicate improvements in swallowing safety (reduced aspiration), improved nutrition and efficiency as a result of both compensatory and direct treatment procedures. Our treatment is not one size fits all so we use different strategies for different swallowing problems. They can include:
- Postural techniques to eliminate aspiration of liquids
- Diet changes that allow a person to continue enjoying meals
- Exercise programs to strengthen and coordinate muscles needed for chewing and swallowing
At Speech Matters, our goal is to return clients to safe, efficient and pleasurable oral intake.