Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

VitalStim® Therapy For Dysphagia - Difficulty Swallowing

Dysphagia, difficulty swallowing, affects an estimated one million Americans every year and is particularly common following a stroke or traumatic brain injury. It also occurs in head and neck cancer patients, patients with Parkinson's disease or other neurological disorders, and in the elderly population.

In its most severe state, dysphagia can leave a person completely unable to swallow and dependent on a feeding tube.

As part of our state-of-the-art dysphagia screening and treatment program, Mercy Medical Center is pleased to offer VitalStim Therapy, the only FDA-approved electrical stimulation therapy for the treatment of dysphagia.

Electrical stimulation during a therapy session is used to aid muscle strengthening to rehabilitate the patient's ability to swallow.

Dysphagia is sometimes hard to detect in mild or moderate cases. The following can be symptoms of dysphagia:

  • Coughing/clearing of the throat after swallowing
  • Abnormal volitional cough
  • Decreased vocal quality (wet, hoarse, weak)
  • Recurring chest infections
  • Multiple swallows
  • Difficulty completing a meal
  • Feeling of food being stuck in the throat
  • Requiring a modified (soft or pureed food) diet
  • Difficulty starting a swallow
  • Spilling fool or liquid from the lips and/or drooling

In clinical and real-world settings, VitalStim Therapy has shown to be safe and effective, successfully treating patients of every age and disease state.

At Mercy Medical Center, we have two Speech Language Pathologists who have completed VitalStim Therapy certification and can answer your questions about dysphagia and VitalStim.

For information, please call 516-62MERCY.


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