Tag Archives: swallowing disorder

VIDEO: SwallowSTRONG System Overview

Our latest video, embedded below, shows how patients and clinicians can use the SwallowSTRONG System from Swallow Solutions to treat dysphagia.

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New Board Certified Specialists in Swallowing and Swallowing Disorders

The American Board of Swallowing and Swallowing Disorders recently welcomed the newest group of Board Certified Specialists in Swallowing & Swallowing Disorders. We’d like to join them in congratulating the following people, their mentors and their employers!

Leah Harrigan
Employer: UC Health – University of Cincinnati Medical Center
Mentor: Angela Dubis-Bohn

Deborah Ross 
Employer: San Diego Speech Therapy
Mentor: Donna Edwards

Amanda Morano-Villhauer
Employer: Progressive Rehabilitation Associates

Melissa Carrier-Damon
Employer: LifeScape
Mentor: Lindsay Labrot

Laura Loveless
Employer: Texas Children’s Hospital
Mentor: Margaret Tiner

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Aging and Dysphagia

Though dysphagia can occur as a symptom of a larger disease, it can also occur in people as a part of normal aging. In fact, 22% of adults over age 50, and 55% of those in institutional settings suffer from dysphagia.

A post by Rebecca Leonard, Ph.D. on the National Foundation of Swallowing Disorders website outlined some of the ways how swallowing changes as we get older. Check out the list below:

  1. Reduced bulk and sensitivity of the vocal cords. The vocal cords help protect from aspiration (food or drink “going down the wrong pipe”) during the swallow. If the vocal cords don’t effectively seal off the airway, the material being swallowed could end up in the lungs. A telltale sign of this kind of trouble swallowing is coughing after a swallow.
  2. Reduced bulk and strength of the tongue and throat (pharynx). The tongue and pharynx help to propel food and drink down the esophagus (the tube that leads to the stomach) during the swallow. If that process isn’t working correctly, material can remain in the mouth after the swallow and cause aspiration.
  3. Decreased sphincter size at the top of the esophagus. During a normal swallow, the hole that leads to the esophagus relaxes, allowing food and drink to enter. As we age, the opening gets smaller. In this case, solid food or pills may “get stuck” on the way down to the stomach.
  4. The throat (pharynx) is longer. For younger people, the average swallowing time is about 1 second. That time gets longer as we age, meaning that the airway has to be protected for longer during each swallow.

We know that swallowing function changes as we age. Typically, we make compensations for our swallowing without knowing it, and many people continue to eat safely. However, as the population ages and more people encounter swallowing difficulty, it’s important we understand how to recognize and treat these changes so we can swallow safely into old age.

Read more on NFOSD.

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June is National Dysphagia Awareness Month – Dysphagia Facts

June is National Dysphagia Awareness Month, and we at Swallow Solutions are hoping to raise awareness for this serious medical condition. Let’s start off with some facts about dysphagia. How many of these did you know?

1) Dysphagia, or difficulty swallowing, affects more than 15 million Americans.

2) Stroke, neurodegenerative disorders, and head and neck cancers are common causes of dysphagia.

3) Dysphagia can occur for a number of reasons, and is common in people with weak lingual musculature. Muscles in your head and neck enable you to swallow regular foods and liquids.

4) Dysphagia can lead to life threatening health complications, such as dehydration, malnutrition, aspiration pneumonia (when food or liquid ‘goes down the wrong pipe,’ and gets to the lungs) and/or airway obstruction.

5) Modified diets (thickened liquids or pureed solids) are commonly recommended for people with dysphagia.

6) Dysphagia can also result in reduced quality of life. Just think of how many social events are centered around eating and drinking! Now imagine not being able to participate fully in those events with friends and family.

7) Dysphagia can cause people to feel socially isolated and withdrawn.

8) Clinical evidence supports strengthening lingual musculature (something that can be accomplished using the SwallowSTRONG device) to increase swallowing ability. Therapy for dysphagia is often divided into two “camps:” Compensatory (diet modification) or Rehabilitative (lingual strengthening). Both can be used together!

9) Therapy for dysphagia is often divided into two “camps:” Compensatory (diet modification) or Rehabilitative (lingual strengthening). Both can be used together!

10) Compensatory strategies are often used early on in therapy, and can be eliminated as a dysphagia patient gets stronger and swallows more safely.

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Centralized Access to Patient Performance Leads to Better Care

At Swallow Solutions, we believe in helping clinicians provide the best care possible to their patients.

As a means to that end, we offer an innovative product called the SwallowSTRONG Management System, or SSMS for short. SSMS allows clinicians and facilities to monitor de-identified patient strengthening performance data, based on the serial number of the mouthpiece.

While each SSMS utilization is different, we recently heard a story from an organization that had success using a centralized approach.

The facility had a clinical trainer, someone with strong knowledge of the SwallowSTRONG product, monitor SSMS as patient data from the current caseload began to appear in the system. By viewing the data related to patient performance, the clinical trainer was able to provide specific feedback to individual clinicians in order to optimize therapy outcomes for their patients.

For example, one patient was having a difficult time hitting their therapy targets. After receiving a suggestion to shorten the target duration, the clinician made an adjustment to the protocol so that the patient received more frequent positive reinforcement, yielding better results overall.

The unique functionality of SSMS maximizes the effect of therapy treatment with the SwallowSTRONG. When used together, they become a powerful tool in the fight against dysphagia.

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