Treatments for Swallowing Disorders

Learn About Swallowing Treatments from Albany’s Top Ear Nose & Throat Doctor

Dysphagia or difficulty swallowing can occur in children and adults. It is especially common in individuals with neurologic conditions and following radiation treatment for head and neck cancer. The term dysphagia refers to difficulty passing food or liquid from the mouth to the stomach. Dysphagia may be caused by factors such as poor dentition; acid reflux; stroke; progressive neurologic disorder; presence of a tracheotomy tube; a paralyzed vocal cord; a tumor in the mouth, throat, or esophagus; or after cancer or surgery to the head, neck, or esophagus.

Many swallowing disorders may be treated by traditional swallowing therapy, which focuses diet modifications, compensatory airway protections techniques,
and special exercises to help coordinate and strengthen swallowing muscles. Our speech-language pathologist, Susan C. Hare, MS, has completed an intensive raining course on Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation (NMES) that can be used as an additional modality to stimulate the muscles responsible for safe swallowing.

How does it work?

NMES is a fundamentally different approach for the treatment of dysphagia. It involves the use of electrical pulses that are modified and manipulated to excite peripheral nerves and evoke an action potential through surface electrodes. These electrodes are placed externally on the suprahyoid muscles of the neck. This electrical stimulation facilitates contractions ofthe muscles used for swallowing. Our trained speech pathologist, administers NMES to help patients “re-educate” their muscles through rehabilitation therapy. There has been over 30 years of neuromuscular protocols developed at places such as Ranchos Los Amigos Rehabilitation have become a cornerstone for the treatment of muscle reeducation and strengthening of all muscle groups. Here at Albany ENT & Allergy Services, we support that the premise of these principals equally apply to the treatment of dysphagia patients. Using a safe range of adjustable parameters, NMES protocols offer our speech pathologist an alternative to traditional dysphagia therapy.

Who is a candidate?

A patient is indicated for dysphagia or swallowing therapy when they:

  • Show signs of, or are at risk for aspiration and/or
  • Have difficulty managing their diet, and
  • Have difficulty managing saliva.
  • Unable to meet full nutritional needs by mouth
  • Swallowing is effortful, un-enjoyable, or takes too long.
Meet our Staff

Susan C. Hare, MS, CCC-SLP

Speech - Swallowing - Voice -  Evaluations and Therapy

FEES Exams
Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation
Lee Silverman Voice Therapy

Speech FAQ

American Speech–Language–Hearing Association (ASHA)