Swallowing/Dysphagia Therapy

Swallowing problems (dysphagia) are common as we age. Trouble with swallowing can result from a variety of medical conditions. It is estimated that between 50 and 75 percent of stroke survivors are left with a compromised ability to swallow. People who have undergone treatment of head or neck cancer and those who have experienced surgical trauma to the neck such as a tracheotomy to maintain breathing, also experience difficulty swallowing. Neurological disorders like Parkinson's disease can also be to blame. Even old age can affect a person's ability to eat normally. If you can't swallow food and liquids safely, you may be at risk of developing respiration concerns and may not be getting good nutrition. It's extremely important to seek help if you are having trouble swallowing. Swallowing problems can typically get better with the right treatment by a trained speech therapist.

Regardless of the cause, Salina Regional Health Center's speech therapy department can help. Treatment is often started while patients are in the hospital. Services are also offered on an outpatient basis.

The speech therapists at Salina Regional Health Center are VitalStim® certified. With VitalStim®, low-voltage electrodes are placed on the neck of the patient and small currents are used to stimulate the muscles responsible for swallowing. Patients feel a small tingling sensation on their neck during treatment.

The treatment is done in conjunction with traditional tongue and neck exercises to aid with retraining and strengthening the muscles used for swallowing.

Outpatient swallowing treatments typically occur two to three days a week for 30 to 45 minutes.

To learn more about swallowing treatment and VitalStim® therapy, contact Salina Regional Health Center's Speech Therapy Department at (785) 452-6787.