Electrical stimulation as a treatment option for swallowing difficulties
Neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES), as used in the treatment of dysphagia (swallowing difficulties), involves the administration of small electrical impulses to swallowing muscles in the throat through electrodes attached to the skin. At Salude we have specially trained Speech Language Pathologists who are certified to perform this therapy. In conjunction with other speech therapy, muscles are re-educated and swallowing efficiency is improved. Typically, the therapist determines which muscles will benefit most from this treatment process to help encourage and enhance the swallowing process.
NMES is applied in conjunction with traditional exercise therapy. Electrodes are gently placed on the front of the patient’s neck. A carefully measured electrical current is administered to targeted nerves. The current produces neural stimulation, which creates a muscle contraction that facilitates swallowing. Through repetition and specific therapeutic exercises and strategies, the patient’s muscles relearn how to swallow independently. The patient exercises the swallowing muscles for periods of up to one hour while receiving concurrent electrical stimulation. The electrical stimulation when applied in this manner Cn accelerate muscle strengthening and increases the effectiveness of the exercise therapy.
Delivery of this treatment requires specially trained and credentialed therapists – usually Speech Language Pathology (SLP) professionals or Physical Therapy (PT) professionals perform this type of treatment
When it comes to finding the best possible treatments for dysphagia, knowledge is power. Ask your health care professionals detailed questions regarding your specific situation.