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Swallowing

Do you or your child have any of these symptoms?

Difficulty swallowing, or Dysphagia, is a condition that can affect both children and adults due to various medical problems. Dysphagia can range in severity from mild difficulty when swallowing to inability to eat or drink anything by mouth, thereby requiring an alternative means for nutrition such as feeding tubes. Estimates conclude that as many as 15 million Americans suffer from some level of dysphagia. Dysphagia can result in dehydration, weight loss and lung infections/pneumonia. 

Swallowing Disorders in Adults

Swallowing problems in adults can be due to a variety of reasons including stroke, Traumatic Brain Injury, head/neck cancer, surgery, Parkinsons disease, COPD, sensory issues, TMJ and Trissmus.

I use manual therapy to improve all stages of the swallow to increase mobility, timing, coordination and strength of the muscles and structures used in swallowing. Oral-pharyngeal stimulation is also provided to improve timing and strength of the swallow. Specific exercises help build strength of the swallowing muscles as well. Myofascial release has been particularly successful in helping those with scar tissue from surgery or from radiation therapy for head and neck cancer.

Benefits of dysphagia therapy include improved comfort and confidence while eating and drinking, ability to consume less restricted food textures, and improved safety (reducing or eliminating the risk of aspiration).

For more information, visit the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.  [1]

Feeding and Swallowing for Children

With children, there are many variables that can lead to difficulty with feeding and swallowing. Some of these include oral motor based weakness; sensory issues, increased tone, and problems with coordination of breathing and swallowing. Therapy is provided for these children as well as for those children who refuse to eat or who are picky eaters. 

Sensory motor-based issues are addressed utilizing a variety of techniques including positioning, myofascial release, oral sensory motor exercises, and progression of food textures. Focus is on developing your child’s ability to efficiently, safely and comfortably consume a variety of foods. Mealtime strategies [2] are provided to enhance feeding skills and to facilitate a more enjoyable experience for the child and family.

Feeding aversion issues are addressed in a holistic fashion. Identification of initial and ongoing causes of distress are part of the process, as well as working to eliminate any medical issues that my cause continued distress while eating. Through integrated structural therapies, sensory experiences to facilitate desensitization, and a hierarchy of food smells, tastes, and textures, the child is helped to regain (or gain for the first time) comfort and control while eating, thereby eliminating or reducing gagging and vomiting, increasing the variety and amounts of foods consumed, and improving weight gain and nutrition.

 

Sessions by Appointment

Michele G. Fava, MS CCC-SLP

Speech Language Pathologist