Swallow Therapy (VitalStim Treatment)

At Salina Regional Health Center VitalStim treatment is helping many with difficulty swallowing. It is estimated that between 50 and 75 percent of stroke survivors are left with a compromised ability to swallow. Some can't even drink water. People who have undergone treatment for head or neck cancer and those who have experienced surgical trauma to the neck, such as a tracheotomy to maintain breathing, also experience difficulty ingesting food. Neurological disorders like Parkinson's disease can also be to blame. Even old age can take a toll on the ability to eat normally.

Regardless of the cause, Saline Regional Health Center's speech therapy department can help. Treatment is often started while patients are still in the hospital, but many continue therapy on an outpatient basis once sent home.

With VitalStim, low-voltage electrodes are placed on the neck of the patient and small amounts of current are used to stimulate the muscles responsible for swallowing. Patients only feel a numbing sensation on their neck during VitalStim treatment.

The treatment is done in conjunction with neck and tongue exercises that also work to retrain the muscles in the throat.

Generally, treatments are given four or five days a week and sessions last 30 to 45 minutes.

To learn more about VitalStim electrical stimulation call Salina Regional's speech therapy department at (785) 452-7842.

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