Patients with dysphagia, or difficulty swallowing, can now receive advanced help thanks to the certification of NHS’s Speech Pathologist, Rose Janzen, in VitalStim Therapy. VitalStim Therapy is an FDA cleared method to treat dysphagia, which often leads to aspiration.
“It is estimated that dysphagia affects between six and 15 million adults and an unknown number of children in the United States,” said Janzen.
Dysphagia is a common issue for patients who have had a stroke, have neurological diseases, or head and neck cancer. It is often part of the body’s aging process as well. The primary concern for patients suffering from dysphagia is that they will aspirate, which can lead to aspiration pneumonia, posing a serious risk to the patient’s overall health and recovery.
“VitalStim Therapy is important for NHS patients because it provides a new approach to patients with swallowing disorders that can be combined with traditional speech treatment which will allow for faster and more optimal results,” said NHS Outpatient Therapy Director Rachel Atkinson.
VitalStim Therapy is designed to promote safe swallowing through the application of Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation (NMES) to the swallowing muscles in conjunction with conventional swallowing exercises.
“The goal is to strengthen and re-educate the muscular system and improve motor control of the swallowing mechanism,” said Janzen.
Electrical impulses are administered to the swallowing muscles in the throat via electrodes attached to the skin overlaying the musculature. Once current intensity has been increased to a satisfactory level, the patient is directed in traditional exercise therapy. When electrical stimulation is applied in this manner, it accelerates muscle strengthening and cortical reorganization, and increases the effectiveness of the exercise therapy.
“The treatment is safe, effective and cost efficient,” said Janzen. “I am so grateful that Northeastern Health System believes in its therapists and seeks to provide us with the resources we need to provide excellent, evidence-based, treatments to our patients.”
The administration, providers and staff at Northeastern Health System strive to provide convenient and affordable access to a full range of services, including many primary and specialty care services, and consider it a privilege to serve the community.
To take advantage of VitalStim Therapy, patients are encouraged to obtain a referral from their healthcare provider.