Difficulty swallowing, or dysphagia, can impact your quality of life. At Wake Forest Baptist Health, our experienced team of speech-language pathologists and laryngologists specialize in treating patients who have problems swallowing foods, liquids, medications or even saliva.
We use the latest exams and technology to assess swallowing and aspiration and then develop an individualized treatment plan for each patient.
Types of Swallowing Therapies
We offer a variety of swallowing therapies to help strengthen swallow muscles and improve swallow function and safety. These treatments are customized for each patient and may include:
Oral and Pharyngeal Strengthening Exercises
These exercises focus on improving strength, timing and coordination of the muscles of the mouth, tongue and throat.
Surface Electromyography (SEMG)
Small electrodes are placed under your chin to measure contraction of the swallowing muscles. The data is displayed on a computer monitor in real time, providing visual biofeedback that helps you improve your swallowing effort.
Lingual manometry is used to evaluate and improve tongue strength. Small air-filled bulbs are placed on your tongue. You will then press the bulbs against the roof of your mouth while a computer screen monitors the activity. This provides visual biofeedback during tongue strengthening exercises.
An endoscope is placed through your nose to allow visualization of the throat. You are then able to practice swallowing exercises, maneuvers and strategies with an increased awareness of your targeted outcomes.
Small electrodes are placed under your chin and deliver an electrical current to stimulate the muscles in your neck and improve swallowing. This is performed together with traditional swallowing exercises and lingual manometry.
Cold or flavored foods (such as lemon flavored swabs, ice chips or popsicles) are given to you in an effort to create a swallow response. The use of the cold or flavor may help if you have decreased sensation to notice the foods and liquids and swallow them in a more timely fashion. Speeding up your response time increases your safety.
Respiratory Training and Biofeedback
Respiratory training can be provided to improve breathing methods. This improves swallowing, reduces congestion and helps clear airways. You will be taught to use a handheld device to work on better breathing in and out. In addition, biofeedback can be used to increase attention to respiration during the swallow.
Specially trained speech-language pathologists can provide gentle and sustained stretching to release muscle restriction and improve range of motion. This eases pain and aids in improved swallowing function.
We use the TheraBite® Jaw Motion Rehabilitation System™ to help patients who have problems with the jaw, like difficulty biting, chewing, speaking and swallowing. We help develop a therapy plan and educate you about use of the device.
Inpatient and Outpatient Swallowing Therapy
We offer both inpatient and outpatient swallowing therapy.
Outpatient swallowing therapy requires time, energy and dedication from the patient. You may need to work with the speech-language pathologist 2 or 3 times per week, for a number of weeks, to improve swallowing function. In addition, you will be given swallowing exercises to practice at home.
Learn about the pediatric feeding and swallowing therapies available at Brenner Children's Hospital.