CASE STUDY: Patient with Aneurysm and Severe Dysphagia has G-tube Removed After Using SwallowSTRONG

The patient, “John” has lived in a skilled nursing facility in Texas since suffering a large aneurysm. For 2.5 years, John received all nutrition via a G-tube. The speech pathologist, Emily –  employed by Rehab Synergies – had worked with John before, but was able to pick him back up on caseload when she got the SwallowSTRONG System. The SwallowSTRONG technology allowed for a new and more systematic approach to oropharyngeal strengthening.

At the start of therapy with the SwallowSTRONG, John was barely able to move his tongue. Under the excellent direction of Emily, he progressively strengthened his swallowing muscles, and is now able to eat orally and had the G-tube removed. 

Emily reported, “The patient and family loved seeing the progress in real time with the user interface as well as the progress printouts from the SwallowSTRONG Management System. SwallowSTRONG allowed us to push for maximum improvement and validated that patient was making progress. It’s definitely a great product to have in your therapy arsenal, especially after seeing the impact it made on such a severe case.”

John, his family,Emily and the team are all celebrating these significant improvements in swallowing safety and quality of life!

Recognizing Swallowing Problems in People with Dementia

Dysphagia is a serious issue regardless of other conditions the person may have. It can lead to serious health consequences, like malnutrition, aspiration pneumonia, and reduced quality of life.

But the condition can be even more difficult for people with dementia, and diagnosing a swallowing problem in a demented person can be difficult. Dementia patients may have difficulty communicating, or may forget that they have issues with swallowing food or drink.

How can clinicians or caretakers guard against dysphagia in patients with dementia?

Here are some subtle signs that may indicate a swallowing problem:

  • Coughing during eating
  • Constant clearing of the throat
  • Grimaces or painful expression during eating
  • Holding food in the side of the mouth
  • Spitting out food
  • Drooling while eating
  • Eating too fast
  • Unexpected weight lost
  • Wet, gurgle or hoarse-sounding voice
  • Touching the upper chest or throat when eating
  • Taking too much time to eat
  • Sorting, arranging, or playing with food
  • Excessive chewing, but no swallowing
  • Watery eyes
  • Runny nose

(Click here for more suggestions on recognizing, diagnosing and treating dysphagia in demented patients).

Swallow Solutions offers an innovative dysphagia treatment device called the SwallowSTRONG. The device strengthens the muscles involved in the swallow, and can help some people regain their ability to swallow. And, it’s so intuitive, patients with dementia have had success with the device.

SwallowSTRONG Rental Program

We believe so strongly in the efficacy of the SwallowSTRONG product that we want to make it easier for more people suffering with dysphagia or difficulty swallowing to get access to the product.

That’s why we’re offering a new rental program, making SwallowSTRONG and all the benefits it brings more affordable than ever.

Patients who use the SwallowSTRONG can increase the strength of the muscles involved in the complex process of the swallow.

With the new Swallow Solutions rental program, renters can get access to the SwallowSTRONG for a security deposit of $250 and $200 a month.

Purchase a per-patient mouthpiece for $315, and it’s yours to keep.

A typical therapy course with the SwallowSTRONG lasts two months. That means that for a total investment of $715 ($250 security deposit, two months rental fee at $200/month, $315 mouthpiece), renters can improve the health and quality of life of patients with dysphagia.

Learn more about the Swallow Solutions rental program by clicking here, or contact Swallow Solutions.


Muhammad Ali, Parkinson’s and Dysphagia

As the world continues to mourn the passing of Muhammad Ali, we at the blog were thinking about the legendary boxer’s life and his long struggle with Parkinson’s disease.

Ali was known as a fighter, having gone up against the likes of Larry Holmes, George Foreman and Joe Frazier — but his greatest battle may have been Parkinson’s Disease.

Parkinson’s Disease impacts an estimated one million Americans, according to the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, with about 60,000 new diagnoses each year.

Ali’s public bout with the disease began with a memorable moment at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, when the gold medalist lit the Olympic flame despite his badly shaking limbs.

Why are we talking about Parkinson’s Disease on a blog about dysphagia (difficulty swallowing?) Because people with Parkinson’s often find themselves suffering with dysphagia as well.

Parkinson’s impacts motor function, often manifesting through tremor, rigidity, slowness of movement and postural instability. But additional problems may display as a result of Parkinson’s — one of them being dysphagia.

If you’re suffering from dysphagia, regardless of the cause, we hope that Ali can be an inspiration to you to keep fighting.

Ali was relentless in training for his matches. He knew that regardless of the challenger he’d face in the ring, his body would be prepared.

Swallow Solutions offers an innovative product to help dysphagia patients train the muscles involved in the swallow — ultimately helping them regain the ability to swallow.

With an attitude like Ali, and the SwallowSTRONG, dysphagia patients can often times deliver a knock out blow to their swallowing problems.

(June is National Dysphagia Awareness month. Follow us on Twitter or join us on Facebook for more dysphagia facts throughout the month.)


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Swallow Solutions Training Videos

The SwallowSTRONG is an innovative device that helps patients with dysphagia (difficulty swallowing) strengthen the muscles associated the swallow. We want to make the unique device as easy to use as possible, so we created training videos that cover many ‘frequently asked questions.’

If you’re using SwallowSTRONG with your patients, or if you’re a patient at home using the device, bookmark this page and keep it in mind when you run into any issues.

The first video in the series is the device overview. If you’re new to the device, check out this short video to familiarize yourself. It’s less than two minutes long, but well worth your time!

The next video in the series covers an extremely important area: mouthpiece configuration. A proper mouthpiece ensures the most effective use of the device. An important video for patients and clinicians alike.

The next video covers SSMS, the SwallowSTRONG Management System. SSMS provides clinicians with the ability to remotely track adherence, view patient progress, remotely update therapy targets and more. And it’s all HIPAA compliant. Check out the video below.

In our sample therapy session video, clinicians can get a feel for how a real therapy session would unfold with a patient.

The therapy parameters video covers how clinicians can set unique, personalized parameters for a patient. Parameters include press duration, repetition count and more. By adjusting these parameters, clinicians can craft the most effective therapy plan possible.

Our final video covers how to determine therapy targets. In this video, you’ll learn how to establish an appropriate pressure for therapy — one that a patient will be capable of achieving, but will be sufficiently challenging for strengthening.

If you take a few moments to watch all of these videos, you’ll have a good baseline for working with your SwallowSTRONG.

Keep these videos in your arsenal throughout your use of the device, and you’ll be properly armed in your fight against dysphagia.

VIDEO: SwallowSTRONG Device Overview

If you’ve been following the blog, you may already be familiar with the SwallowSTRONG device. The video below allows you to see it in action.

More videos are available on our website. Check them out here.

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CMS Working to Reduce Hospital Admissions

A new payment model released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) last month could help to reduce preventable hospital admissions.

According to McKnight’s Long-Term Care News, the new plan would increase payments to skilled nursing facilities, allowing them to provide their residents with treatment for common ailments and conditions that could potentially lead to hospitalization.

Physicians would also receive increased payments to perform assessments at SNFs, while under the current model, Medicare pays physicians less to perform evaluations outside of a hospital environment.

Under the new model, participating facilities would be expected to reinvest in staff training and equipment purchases.

Effectively, the payments would make it easier for skilled nursing facilities to provide higher-quality care and lower costs to beneficiaries.

By expanding their patient-care role, SNFs could double-down to reduce hospital admissions by investing in equipment like the Swallow Solutions device, which has been shown to reduce hospital admissions by 61 percent.

The new payment model will enter testing in six health facilities across seven states later this year.

The Complex Process of the Swallow

If you’ve read our blog before, you’re familiar with the frustrating nature of dysphagia, or difficulty swallowing.

But the fact is, swallowing is a complex physical process, and as such, many things can go wrong. That’s why it’s important to have professionals diagnose and prepare a treatment plan.

In today’s post, we’ll break down the steps of the swallow. Be sure to check out this article on Provider for more details.

When we think of the swallow, we sometimes think of it as a fluid, continuous process. But what we think of as swallowing actually contains four distinct phases: the Oral Preparatory phase, the Oral phase, the Pharyngeal phase and the Esophageal phase.

The Oral Preparatory phase takes place when food first enters the mouth. To keep food in the mouth, the lips must possess appropriate strength. The tongue and jaw work together to hold the food in place until the next phase begins.

The Oral phase is the tongue’s time to shine. It begins anterior and posterior movement, pushing food to the back of the throat. The back of the tongue rises as food begins its trip down into the pharynx.

The Pharyngeal phase begins with the soft palate rising to meet the posterior pharyngeal wall and the larynx rising towards the base of the tongue. Openings to the trachea and larynx are covered by passive movement, and the muscles of the pharynx contract to bring the food towards the muscles at the top of the food tube (the cricopharyngeal sphincter).

The Esophageal phase involves — you guessed it — the esophagus. The cricopharyngeus muscle relaxes, allowing the food to pass into the esophagus. A quick wavelike contraction of the muscles in the esophagus pushes food down towards the stomach.

By understanding the phases of the swallow, it’s easier to see how a number of things could cause problems during it, resulting in dysphagia. If you or a loved one have difficulty swallowing, oropharyngeal strengthening with the SwallowSTRONG may be able to help.

Check out more information about Swallow Solutions here.

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Congratulations to Barb Cook for 35 Years of Service!

Swallow Solutions is pleased to congratulate Barb Cook, M.S., CCC-SP for 35 years of service in the speech pathology department at the Edwards Hines Jr. VA Hospital.


Throughout her career, Barb has helped many patients with swallowing problems, and has recently helped bring SwallowSTRONG therapy to dysphagia patients.

The Hines VA is a T21 demonstration SwallowSTRONG clinic site, and helps to bring a multidisciplinary approach to dysphagia patients.

Barb was recognized for her service with a ceremony, where colleagues and a former patient gathered to honor her.

Congratulations again on 35 years of helping speech pathology patients!

Success Story – LinguaCare in West Virginia

Linguacare is an independent speech language pathology service that contracts with healthcare facilities. They’ve been using device facilitated oropharyngeal strengthening for the past two years.

We sat down with Jacqueline Frasier M.A., CCC-SLP to discuss her success using the SwallowSTRONG device.

Q: Do you have any examples of where Swallow Solutions products helped one of your patients?

A: Absolutely. I have had numerous patients have success with Swallow Solutions and SwallowSTRONG. Recently, I had a patient with dysphagia (male, 71 yrs. old) and his wife were in my office crying with joy over the fact that they shared their first meal together for the first time in over 1 and a half years.

Q: Tell us more about this man and his problems.

A: He had head and neck cancer and was 2 years post chemo/radiation. His therapists tried compensatory maneuvers along with oropharyngeal strengthening. However, he was not doing well and his diet degraded to pureed foods and thickened fluids, and then a PEG tube was inserted about 6 months before I began to treat him. His wife was so supportive that she did not want to eat if her husband could not eat and she lost 40 pounds!

Q: So what did you do differently?

A: Well, I saw the Swallow Solutions product at a conference in October of 2013. I started using the device in 2014 and had success with other patients. I decided he was an excellent candidate for the SwallowSTRONG device. My patient was so motivated by the device and was especially engaged with the feedback of the software.

Q: What was the outcome?

A: He strengthened over the first 4 weeks and pureed foods were re-introduced. After 6 weeks of using the device, the PEG tube was removed.

Q: How did the patient react to having the PEG tube removed?

A: Well, that’s why the patient and his wife were in my office crying. They were able to eat together again!

Q: How is the patient doing today?

A: It’s been a total of 12 weeks since I first saw him and he does not need the device anymore. He’s eating full solids now. Every time he eats he’s using all the muscles that were strengthened with the SwallowSTRONG device.

Q: How did your patient pay for the use of the device?

A: I rent the SwallowSTRONG device, and I can use it with all of my patients. The patient pays for the mouthpiece.

Q: How did you get the patient to pay for the mouthpiece?

A: I explained it to the patient this way: the device offers is evidence-based and offers real results, and he’d be saving himself money in the long run. Think about it. With regular visits to his other doctors and therapists, the co-pays alone are very expensive. If we could reduce or eliminate those costs, the mouthpiece pays for itself, all while he’s getting better and enjoying a better quality of life.

Learn more about Linguacare here.