Why dysphagia therapy?

June is Dysphagia Awareness Month. It translates to dys- (disordered) and -phagia (swallowing). Problems can range from severe instances of a complete inability to swallow to mild discomfort when swallowing. Some people complain of coughing on liquids. Others say food gets stuck in their throat. Reports can vary widely and depend on the cause of the problem.

Why dysphagia therapy? Because eating is enjoyable, social, and helps us sustain our energy. Dysphagia therapy is designed to improve the ability to swallow in order to eat or consume the least restrictive diet possible. There are different approaches to dysphagia therapy therefore treatment must be customized to the individual. Dysphagia exercises are implemented to strengthen the muscles used in swallowing such as the lips, cheeks, tongue and throat. Dysphagia exercises can also improve movement of the structures in the throat that may have become stiff and don’t move well, thus making swallowing more difficult.  Just like when your legs are stiff, its hard to walk. In addition to traditional dysphagia exercises, other therapeutic modalities may be warranted including myofacial release, resistive muscle strength.

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