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Dysphagia in the News

A recent article written by Megan Shea at the Gainesville Scene, “Hope is in the Science,” continues to raise awareness of swallowing disorders and their negative impact on the lives they affect.

Shea reviews a recent “Think Tank” gathering hosted by Drs. Emily Plowman and Ianessa Humbert at the University of Florida. Here, expert swallowing clinicians and researchers convened to discuss the future of the treatment and management of swallowing disorders.

Also mentioned in the article, is awareness being raised by those affected by dysphagia including Lisa Ingrassia’s fund established in memory of her father, who suffered from Stage IV head and neck cancer and recently passed away due to complications from dysphagia.

Read the Article:


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Webinar Recording: Building a Future that is Easier to Swallow


Originally Broadcast Live on December 7, 2016

Presentation Description: Dysphagia is an increasing problem worldwide and conventional treatments are not keeping up with the demand for timely and more effective management. A exciting array of new technologies is emerging which will make life very different — in good ways — for those with swallowing difficulties in decades to come. This presentation will discuss some of the most exciting developments with some guesses about the future shape of swallowing rehabilitation.

martin-birchall-2016-2Presenter: Dr. Martin Birchall, is a Surgeon specializing in the management of disorders of the head and neck, voice and swallowing. Martin, with co-workers at UCL and overseas, developed decellularized biologic airway scaffolds combined with autologous cells and stem cells (either differentiated or undifferentiated), culminating in the world’s first stem cell based organ transplant in an adult (Lancet, 2008, 2014) and in a child (Lancet, 2012). In October, 2010, Martin performed the world’s first combined laryngeal and tracheal transplant with surgeons at the University of California Davis in a Californian woman who is now talking well. He was named Daily Telegraph-Morgan Stanley Briton of the Year for Science and Technology in 2009 and is the first ENT surgeon to be elected to the Academy of Medical Sciences (2011) and the first to be elected NIHR Senior Investigator (2014) and to serve on the UK’s REF exercise. He runs a large multi-million pound transatlantic research programme funded by MRC, CIRM, TSB and NIHR, dedicated to the development of tissue-engineered organ replacements.

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My Belly Has Two Buttons

meikeleBy Meikele Lee, author of the children’s book “My Belly has Two Buttons” and lives in Helena, Mt.  She is a wife and mother to 3 amazing children, one of whom has a feeding tube.  She has been in cosmetology for over 10 years, but became passionate about blogging when her youngest child’s oral aversions became life threatening.  She used blogging to try and understand her son’s condition and how he can relate to others with or without a feeding tube, and to help educate the public about these life saving devices. continue reading →

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A Moveable Feast

004-1It’s hard to know which events inform our reality and which only mark the passing of time.

Waking up in the hospital with a brand new feeding tube on board was clearly one of the former.

But there I was.

I had resisted repeated proposals from medical professionals to have a g-tube inserted. They warned of the worsening dysphagia I faced due to the effects of radiation for throat cancer I’d had years earlier.

Finally, home alone for a week – my wife visiting family in Florida – I faced a crisis. My esophagus closed down for business altogether. I couldn’t swallow anything, and by day 4, I had lost about 15 pounds and was terribly weak. So it was off to the ER, and then the OR, for the g-tube.

As I worked my way through the post-op haze, a well-meaning speech therapist visited and informed me that I was lucky indeed. Now, she said, I could get all my nutrition through this feeding tube. The product to be consumed, something like Ensure, would be delivered to my door, and I probably wouldn’t even have to pay for it!

Wow, I thought. Even with the dysphagia, I had looked forward to meals in restaurants, family dinners at home, milkshakes, ice cream.   Now, all of this would be accomplished through a tube they’d installed in my stomach.

A moveable feast indeed!

For the next few days in the hospital, I was fed by the “gravity method,” with the nurses doing the work.   When I got home, like most of us, I undertook “bolus feeding” (also known as gravity syringe feeding, the most common home feeding technique), with some trepidation. But I proceeded with an enormous sense of discipline in each and every step, and with lots of assistance from my wife.

Also, like most of us, I gradually started to handle the protocol myself, becoming quite adept at bolus feeding, incorporating it more smoothly into my daily life.

As I saw it, I had two choices. Either sit around and feel sorry for myself or embrace this and get on with it.

I have a wife, two grown children, four grandchildren, and a cat – all of whom from time to time count on me for something. And I have a fairly busy law practice to maintain.

I had no choice but to embrace this new situation.

The first challenge was at my health club where I worried about the appearance of my noticeable apparatus as I showered and dressed with my friends. For a while I tried to partially mask the stoma and the apparatus using various vapor barriers, finally trying some industrial-strength Saran wrap.

Then I threw caution (and the Saran wrap) to the wind. Now I wear the apparatus quite nonchalantly. I think it looks good in the shower, and I frequently sit at the table in our lounge area to ingest a can or two of Jevity when I have an afternoon off.

Next, people kept asking me to meet them for lunch, or for coffee, which meant going to a café or restaurant. Both personally and professionally, I had a strong inclination to continue to engage in these activities.

Shortly after deciding I would have to get on with things, I designed a stick figure man – a happy fellow with his g-tube and a can of Jevity attached.

I used the stick figure to sign notes to everybody around the house. I liked it and it became my signature. I named it Tubenmann, German for “tube man”.

Inspired, I took a Polo-type sweatshirt of mine to a seamstress in town and had her embroider my stick man as a logo on the front of it. I also had her insert a zipper on the shirt, over the spot where my tube is.   This shirt design, I thought, would help me to once again fit in at cafes and restaurants by allowing me to access my Jevity or even coffee – right there – without calling undue attention to myself.

And so I did.

My first venture with my newly configured shirt was at a coffee shop here in Walnut Creek where I met an old friend from San Francisco.


We chose a table by the window, acquired our beverages, and I surreptitiously inserted a syringe into the feeding tube, which I’d accessed through the zipper on the front of my shirt. Then, just holding the syringe there in front of me, I was able to enjoy my coffee, calling little or no attention at all to myself.

This was an altogether fine experience, one I have repeated often since.

I wore the shirt on visits to my speech therapist, the talented Amy Lesico. And I wore it on visits to U.C. Davis professor, Dr. Peter Belafsky, as well as to my local doctors, Sam Sundar and David Lin. Together with their staffs, they unanimously applauded my shirt, calling it very cool.

Their clearly honest and heartwarming enthusiasm came as a complete surprise to me.

It seemed that something I had put together to mostly to entertain myself and in some way facilitate socializing for me had taken on a life of its own.

They are met with amusement, interest, enthusiasm, or most often, the garment is completely ignored as I go about my business wherever I happen to be.

I was fortunate enough to discuss all this with Ed Steger at NFOSD, and he suggested this article. So here it is. A brief account of how I, just one person, am dealing with the g-tube which I understand I will have for quite a long time.










I did not stop just with a few shirts for myself. I have gone on to make available a men’s and a women’s long sleeve polo shirt fitted with my useful modification. Visit to see for yourselves and for ordering.

But remember:

“It’s not just the shirt, it’s the attitude.”

Tom Dawson, Tubenmann


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2017 NFOSD Online Dysphagia Conference

Tuesday, February 28th, 2017

8:00am – 3:00pm PST

2017 NFOSD Online Dysphagia Conference

Register Today

2017 NFOSD Online Dysphagia Conference

Conference Program

Course Summary (0.6 CEUs):

This comprehensive one-day live streaming dysphagia course is presented by 12 clinical and research swallowing disorder experts. The course begins with a review of the basics of the normal swallowing mechanics, taking neurology and age into consideration. It then moves into evaluation techniques, coping mechanisms, and diet modifications. From there, we move into rehabilitation and address exercises, device-driven options, and biofeedback techniques. It wraps up with surgical options, methods for staying healthy, and a panel discussion on living with dysphagia.

Learning Objectives:

  • Participants will identify the anatomy and physiology involved in normal swallowing for children and adults.
  • Participants will identify the symptoms, primary etiologies, and pathophysiology of disordered swallowing in children and adults.
  • Participants will demonstrate knowledge and skills needed to implement research-supported strategies for instrumental and non-instrumental evaluation of swallowing.
  • Participants will demonstrate the ability to devise research-supported treatment plans for specific swallowing impairments, taking into account motivation level, quality of life, cultural, ethical, and moral issues.

Who should attend:

This course is geared toward clinicians who care for patients in a skilled nursing facility, clinic, inpatient hospital,  or outpatient setting. It is also targeted to provide patients, caregivers, and students entering this field a comprehensive look at the current and emerging state of swallowing disorder assessment and rehabilitation techniques. There are over half a dozen Q&A sessions integrated into the program allowing ample time to answer specific questions you may have regarding all facets of this disorder.

Conference Planning Committee

(Click For Bios)

Kate Hutcheson, PhD (Committee Chair)

Liza Blumenfeld, CCC-SLP, BCS-S

Michelle Ciucci, PhD

Nancy Swigert, CCC-SLP, BCS-S, ASHA Fellow, ASHA Honors

Denise A. Barringer, CCC-SLP, BCS-S



Registration To register for the 2017 NFOSD Online Dysphagia Conference, please click here. Payment is due at time of registration. To receive the early bird discount, you must register by December 31, 2016. Payment can be made using credit/debit card or through a PayPal account. If the cost of this conference is preventative, please contact us at for a fee reduction.

Cancellation Policy: By registering as an online conference attendee, you agree and adhere to all policies and regulations. You agree to providing payment in full for the amount indicated on the registration form. If for any reason, the meeting must be canceled, management is not liable for any costs other than the pre-paid attendee registration fee. Should you decide to cancel this agreement and withdraw your registration, the refund/cancellation policy is as follows for registered attendees:

Cancellation 30+ days prior to meeting: 75% refund

Cancellation 29-11 days prior to meeting: 50% refund

Cancellation 10 days or less prior to meeting: No refund


This program is offered for 0.6 CEUs (Intermediate level, Professional area).

Downloadable Flyer


Content Disclosure: The content of this online course does not promote or focus exclusively on any specific proprietary product or service.

 The NFOSD would like to recognize and thank the following organizations supporting the NFOSD Online Dysphagia Conference: