Adult Dysphagia or Swallowing Impairments
Dysphagia is the medical term for impaired swallowing function. A person may experience dysphagia after a neurological diagnosis such CVA, or stroke, Parkinson’s disease, or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). However, sometimes patients develop dysphagia as part of the aging process or for no apparent reason. Signs and Symptoms of dysphagia are:
- Difficulty chewing, or masticating, their food
- Frequent gagging on food
- Coughing or choking before, during or after swallowing
- Sensation of food getting caught in the throat
- Running nose and watery eyes while eating
- Frequent throat clearing
- Food or liquid falling out of the mouth before it is swallowed
- Pocketing, or food remaining in cheeks
- Oral residue left in mouth after swallowing
- “Clunking” sounds while swallowing
Our speech and language pathologists will assess the patient’s oral structures, mastication, swallowing abilities, risk for aspiration, cognitive status, and endurance. We consult with the patient’s other specialists, such as nutritionists, ENTs, and GI physicians to ensure that our therapy approach is supporting all the needs of the patient. After an evaluation, we might recommend swallowing therapy, a Modified Barium Swallow study (MBS), or diet modifications.
Our goal is to improve our patient’s oral motor, mastication, and swallowing abilities as well as improve his/her nutritional status. Swallowing goals may include:
- Improve oral motor functioning required for mastication and swallowing.
- Improve bolus control and timing of swallow reflex.
- Decrease signs and symptoms of aspiration.
- Decrease pocketing or oral residue.
- Increase P.O. intake (food by mouth) to meet the nutritional needs of the patient.
- Increase acceptance of a variety of foods and food textures.
- Eliminate G-Tube dependency.
- Eliminate NG-Tube dependency.
- Decrease choking/gagging during meals.
- Teach compensatory strategies to decrease risk of aspiration.
- Caregiver training for carryover of skills to home environment.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes; Temecula Valley Therapy Services now offers individual speech-language, swallowing, occupational, and physical therapy services on an outpatient basis.
All new patients must be assessed before beginning treatment; typically an assessment is completed in one 60 minute session, though a second session may be required for more complex cases. An assessment is comprehensive and will evaluate speech, language, oral motor function, voice and fluency. The clinician will ask questions regarding relevant medical history, complete an oral motor exam and administer standardized testing to assess the patient’s speech and language.
You should come prepared with all required forms (please see the Forms page), including insurance information, case history form and physician’s order stating, “ST evaluation and treatment.” You should also bring any relevant medical documents and copies of speech-language assessments completed in the past.
Yes; if you are planning to bill your speech language therapy to your insurance company, you will need a referral. Please contact our billing department if you need more information.
Most insurance companies require that the therapy be “medically necessary.” Your therapist can determine if your therapy is medically necessary during the initial evaluation. Please refer to the insurance page for information about which types of insurance we accept; if you have further questions, please contact our billing department.
No, TVTS does not currently have an audiologist on staff. Please refer to the Resources page for audiologists in the Temecula area. If hearing loss is suspected, it is most beneficial to complete this process before your assessment at TVTS and bring a copy of the report to your assessment.
Yes, please call our office for further information.