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Swallowing Assessment Techniques

MBS ImageByline: Ellen Conover, MA CF-SLP and Jan Pryor, MA CCC-SLP BCS-S

[Editors note. This is a follow on article to a two part mini-series on what to expect during “Your First Swallowing Assessment.”]

You may be thinking that the swallowing specialist already observed the way you swallow.  While this is true, additional testing may be needed to determine why you may be having swallowing difficulties. This is because the timing, strength and coordination of swallowing is invisible to the human eye. Research has shown that many individuals aspirate (aspiration – when food or liquid enters the lungs) without coughing and cannot be diagnosed upon initial clinical swallowing evaluations, so further objective or instrumental examinations are ordered. (1)

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Your First Swallow Assessment – What to Expect (Part 2)

[Editors note. This mini-series was a collaborative effort by Sharon C. Meier, MS CCC-SLP (Able Speech and Voice in Osprey, Florida), Jan Pryor, MA CCC-SLP BCS-S, and Ellen Conover, MS CF-SLP. Part one focused on swallowing disorder symptoms; this part, part two, focuses on what to expect during an initial swallowing assessment. NFOSD would like to thank each of our contributing authors.]

The first visit starts the minute we meet. Are you ambulatory (able to walk), alone or with another? As we walk toward the therapy room, dining room or kitchen table, we talk.  I subjectively assess cognition (attention, memory, problem solving), vocal quality, pragmatics (social appropriateness in communication) and medical concerns.  We discuss recent doctor visits. I assess posture, stature and proportional weight.  We converse while establishing rapport.  I ask if you are having eating, chewing and or swallowing issues.

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Do You or Someone You Know have a Swallowing Problem? (Part 1)

[Editors note. This mini-series was a collaborative effort by Sharon C. Meier, MS CCC-SLP (Able Speech and Voice in Osprey, Florida), Jan Pryor, MA CCC-SLP BCS-S, and Ellen Conover, MS CF-SLP. Part one focuses on swallowing disorder symptoms; part two, to be published next week, focuses on what to expect during an initial swallowing assessment. NFOSD would like to thank each of our contributing authors.]

How do you know if you have a swallowing problem?  There are many symptoms that indicate you may need to see a swallowing specialist.

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The Five-Minute Swallowing Assessment Survey

A swallowing assessment study published in 2008* reported that a swallowing “disorder is under recognized by most clinicians and is frequently underreported by patients.” To provide an easy assessment tool and promote better communications between a patient and their clinicians, the study authors developed and validated a self-administered Eating Assessment Tool with 10 easy questions. This assessment tool is named “EAT-10” and has been adopted by many clinics as a means of initial patient assessment and ongoing progress.

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