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Center for Swallowing Disorders

Swallowing Therapy available at Siskin Hospital's Center for Swallowing Disorders

The ability to swallow food and liquid is one of our body’s most important functions for sustaining life as well as a major component of socialization, community interaction and quality of life.  

Difficulty swallowing, called dysphagia, may be caused by problems of the brain or nervous system such as a stroke, brain or spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), Myasthenia Gravis (M6) and Parkinson’s Disease. Other causes of swallowing disorders include gastro esophageal reflux disease (GERD) and head and neck cancer.

Traditional treatment methods for dysphagia involve managing the condition with diet modifications and exercise. At Siskin Hospital, we also offer the latest evidence-based protocol using exercise principles and biofeedback training. We also offer neuromuscular electrical stimulation to best meet the needs of our patients. 

Swallowing disorders pose considerable risk to the patient because of the potential effects such as malnutrition, dehydration and pneumonia. 

Our mission is to provide state-of-the-art treatment of dysphagia to ensure the health and well-being of our patients. 
 
Our Staff

Our experienced staff of Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs) are trained in clinical and instrumental evaluation of a wide range of swallowing disorders.  From the evaluation findings, a comprehensive treatment plan is developed to improve swallowing function, minimize risk of aspiration and return the person to safe eating as soon as possible. 

Learn more about our team of Speech-Language Pathologists.



Special features of Siskin Hospital's Swallowing Therapy Program:
 
  • Siskin Hospital is the ONLY rehabilitation center in Chattanooga that has on-site instrumental assessment of swallowing with videofluroscopy or Modified Barium Swallow Study.
    This means that you do not have to leave our facility to have your x-ray swallowing test repeated AND the therapist that has been working on your swallowing problem can actually perform the swallowing test, as opposed to having to transport to or schedule with another facility where the performing SLP may not be as familiar with your case.
  • Use of a special medical rehabilitation device provides biofeedback and measures the strength of your tongue and lip muscles. This is important because the tongue and lips are essential in  producing a strong swallow.
  • We have speech-language pathologists trained in the use of electrical stimulation to facilitate progress with swallowing, along with the use of traditional and other swallowing therapy techniques.
  • We have 3 speech-language pathologists trained in the use of myofascial release for the treatment of tight muscles (head and neck cancer/radiation effects).
  • We have therapeutic dining programs where patients can learn to use maneuvers/strategies to swallow more safely with the supervision and encouragement of therapists and nursing staff.

Modified Barium Swallow Study is a video x-ray taken while the patient is eating and drinking. The addition of barium to foods and liquids will allow these items to be visible on the x-ray.  The SLP typically observes the patient from a side view to evaluate the passage of the food and liquid through the mouth and throat. This procedure has the advantage of viewing the oral and upper esophageal phases of swallowing and can provide information regarding the function of the swallowing anatomy. This enables the clinician to recommend safe food textures and to evaluate for treatment strategies that ensure the plan for swallowing therapy is targeting the appropriate areas. 


For more information about the Swallowing Therapy Program at Siskin Hospital, email SLP@siskinrehab.org.