This group (pictured above*), which had its inaugural kickoff meeting in January 2013, celebrated its one year anniversary this month. A dozen participants, two group facilitators, and a subject matter expert in physical therapy attended the January 11, 2014 meeting.
The National Foundation of Swallowing Disorders (NFOSD) has 10 groups lists on our Support Group webpage. Each group varies in meeting frequency, variety of participants, and target audience. Meeting variables are driven by the meeting participants with input from the facilitator. Frequencies range from multiple times per month to once a quarter. Some focus on a specific underlying disorder while others have participants with a wide range of underlying causes. And, while most groups are for adults with a swallowing disorder, one group is dedicated to parents who have children with dysphagia. Attendance is free, and with one exception, groups are open to the entire surrounding community.
The Houston chapter has chosen a monthly meeting frequency that meets at 10:00 AM for 2 hours on the second Saturday of each month. It is facilitated by Brad Smith, (M.S., CCC-SLP, CLT) and Michelle Cororve Fingeret (Ph.D., Licensed Psychologist, Associate Professor). Most sessions include a presentation by an invited guest speaker such as a Board Certified Swallowing and Swallowing Disorder (BCS-S) specialist, a nutritionist, a physical therapist, and other relevant subject matter experts.
The January 2014 meeting’s guest presenter was Naghma Ahmed, a Senior Physical Therapist. She covered the anatomy (generally from the mid-chest up), the lymphatic system, deep breathing, and how disease and treatment can affect one’s normal range of motion and strength. She then talked about how posture, exercise and various massage techniques (some deep tissue; some light) can help lessen compromised tissue, fluid buildup, range of motion and strength. Naghma hit the mark with this participant group as she answered question after question when moving from one topic to another. Towards the end of her presentation, she asked the group if they’d like to try some of the exercises. This was completely engaging and every participant joined Naghma as she went through an abbreviated workout routine.
The NFOSD would like to thank and congratulate the group facilitators and all guest speakers. They donate their time and energy (along with their institution’s comfortable office space and free parking) and have established a well attended and valuable patient healing and networking experience and partnership.
For those interested in starting a support group in your area, NFOSD has a set of useful collateral to help one get started. Contact NFOSD at firstname.lastname@example.org if interested in learning more.
*A few participants left just before the meeting ended and are therefore not included in the above photo.