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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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Real Science; Real Hope! – Adult Stem Cell Human Tongue Infusion Initiative (Update)

On March 9, 2013 we published an article on a ground breaking swallowing treatment initiative to infuse adult stem cells into a human tongue by Christmas day 2014. [Click here to view that article].

Two days later, on March 11, 2013, we received an “A List” tour of the UC Davis Institute for Regenerative Cures (IRC). The NFOSD would like to thank our hosts Dr. Peter Belafsky (Phase I trial Principal Investigator), Dr. Jan Nolta (IRC director), Gerhard Bauer (Director of Good Manufacturing Practices), and Jane McClusky (tour facilitator extraordinaire).

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How Aging Affects Our Swallowing Ability

Byline: Rebecca Leonard, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Otolaryngology, UC Davis

[Editors note: Click on the image below to view a 16 second video fluoroscopy clip of a swallow by a 20-something year old (on the left) versus a 70-something year old (on the right). Notice how smoothly liquids glide down the throat of the younger subject versus the effort and time required by the older subject to clear his throat. Comment — How nice it would be to be young again! Video provided courtesy of Rebecca Leonard.]

Swallowing difficulty (dysphagia) is a common consequence of many medical conditions, including stroke, chronic diseases that affect the nervous system and surgeries that affect the head and neck.  But swallowing difficulty can also be associated with aging.  In fact, it has been estimated that as many as 20% of individuals over the age of 50 years, and most individuals by the age of 80 years, experience some degree of swallowing difficulty. Individuals over the age of 65 years accounted for 12.9% of the U.S. population in 2009, and are expected to account for 19% of the population by 2030.  These large and growing numbers motivate us to understand all we can about how aging affects swallowing.  Hopefully, what we learn will help us treat, and possibly prevent, dysphagia in the elderly.

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Team “Phoenix Fury” Constructs Robotic Devise to Assist Those with Dysphagia

Team Phoenix Fury visits Dr. Peter Belafsky in January 2013 – From left to right: Hanna, Vishal, Dr. Belafsky, Aiden, Jeremy, Amrita, Akshay, and Nicole.

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Meet our Medical Advisory Board

The NFOSD established a Medical Advisor Board in 2013 to help achieve our mission of improving the quality of life for those suffering from dysphagia, raising public and government awareness about this disorder, and increasing the funding for direct patient support and research.

Medical Advisory Board Members include: Nadine Connor, Jan Lewin, Christy Ludlow, and Nancy Swigert. Our committee members have focused on education, research, and direct patient support of swallowing disorders for a combined total of over 100 years.

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