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Advances in Swallowing Disorder Therapy

[Editors note: This article is about an innovative device and complimentary therapy currently under clinical trial evaluation. NFOSD’s intent in publishing this material is to alert the dysphagia community about “potential” advances in dysphagia treatment options; it is not a product or therapy endorsement. Following exposure to this device and therapy at the Dysphagia Research Society (DRS) conference in mid-March 2013, NFOSD initiated contact with Dr. Robbins. We’d like to thank her and her team for providing this information to us and our community.]

Pictured Above: Dr. Robbins with MOST® device and patient

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A Daughter’s Thoughts – Happy Father’s Day, Dad

Byline: Lisa Ingrassia

I have always been a “daddy’s girl”, so when my father was diagnosed with Stage IV base of the tongue cancer in late December of 2008 my entire life changed.  The days following my Dad’s diagnosis are forever etched in my brain.  Our family prepared for the fight of our lives. I quickly learned that when a cancer patient said he was “battling” cancer, he certainly was.  The weeks of my Dad’s intensive radiation and chemotherapy treatments were grueling and often times testing.

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Finding the Right Swallowing Specialist

By: Nancy B. Swigert*, M.A., CCC-SLP, BCS-S

[Editor’s note – We asked Ms. Swigert to write this article in response to the inquiries we receive weekly from people who feel they have been pushed aside by their physician when searching for assistance with a swallowing issue. There is a common set of themes… my doctor doesn’t believe me, he doesn’t see anything wrong (it’s in your head; have you seen a psychiatrist), and he can’t refer me to someone who might help. Although not every swallowing disorder can be addressed; there are science-based assessment tools and therapeutic techniques that can alleviate many swallowing issues. This article is a resource to help you find a clinician who is right for you.]  

If you or your loved one has a swallowing problem, you may have experienced frustration as you looked for the right person to help. Often, the first call should be to a speech-language pathologist (SLP), but not just any speech-language pathologist. Because speech—language pathologists have a wide scope of practice, not every speech-language pathologist knows about swallowing.

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181

Clinical Trials181 — The number of open clinical trials with a known status on http://clinicaltrials.gov with the word “dysphagia” in the study (as of 4/9/2013).  We receive inquires periodically about what’s in the medical treatment pipeline for swallowing disorder treatment. If one were interested in all dysphagia clinical trials in this valuable source of medical information the number jumps to 757.

Here’s a quick test. Who is your best medical advocate? Some may say one’s physician or physical therapist. We’d argue that your best medical advocate is yourself (or, if you are incapacitated, a loved one or family member).

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The Supraglottic Swallow – Timing is Everything…

Did you know that adult humans only have a tenth of a second to get the airway closed prior to a bolus of liquid entering the upper part of the esophagus or food and liquid will go down the “wrong pipe” (aka trachea)?

Not a lot of room for error.  Most of us have personally experienced the mis-timed swallow either privately or witnessed by others, often when we are talking or otherwise distracted. This hazard is not often experienced by babies, small children or animals because of what I would call “nature’s anatomical protection”, with the hyoid and larynx more closely approximated and in an elevated position and tucked under the base of the tongue, as compared to older individuals. In humans, due to the dual function of the larynx for communication and swallowing, the larynx and hyoid descend as we mature, making the airway more precarious for aspiration but allowing for complex communication and differentiating us from the animals.

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