Feeding and Swallowing Therapy

 

Feeding and Swallowing Therapy:

Treatment depends on the cause, symptoms, and type of swallowing problem. A speech-language pathologist may recommend specific swallowing treatment (e.g., exercises to improve muscle movement), positions or strategies to help the individual swallow more effectively and specific food and liquid textures that are easier and safer to swallow.  After the evaluation, family members or caregivers can help by asking questions to understand the problem and the recommended treatment and assisting in following the treatment plan such as helping with exercises, preparing the recommended food and liquids, and keeping track of how much is consumed. (American Speech and Hearing Association, 2013)

 

Key Age Groups Served:  Birth through adult

 

Characteristics of Disability:

Swallowing disorders, also called dysphagia, can occur at different stages in the swallowing process:

Oral phase – sucking, chewing, and moving food or liquid into the throat

Pharyngeal phase – starting the swallowing reflex, squeezing food down the throat, and closing off the airway to prevent food or liquid from entering the airway (aspiration) or to prevent choking

Esophageal phase – relaxing and tightening the openings at the top and bottom of the feeding tube in the throat (esophagus) and squeezing food through the esophagus into the stomach

Several diseases, conditions, or surgical interventions can result in swallowing problems.

General signs may include:

  • coughing during or right after eating or drinking
  • wet or gurgly sounding voice during or after eating or drinking
  • extra effort or time needed to chew or swallow
  • food or liquid leaking from the mouth or getting stuck in the mouth
  • recurring pneumonia or chest congestion after eating
  • weight loss or dehydration from not being able to eat enough

As a result, adults may have:

  • poor nutrition or dehydration
  • risk of aspiration (food or liquid entering the airway), which can lead to pneumonia and chronic lung disease
  • less enjoyment of eating or drinking
  • embarrassment or isolation in social situations involving eating (American Speech and Hearing Association, 2013)

 

Forms:
Child Evaluation Form

 

Therapy Groups:

http://www.asha.org/public/speech/swallowing