VitalStim Treatment for Dysphagia | Gateway Rehabilitation Hospital


[Lindsey]: Hi, my name is Lindsey Adams. I’m one of the speech therapists here
at Gateway Rehab Hospital. [Maggie]: And my name is Maggie Gilmore, and I’m also a speech therapist at Gateway. And we’re both certified in VitalStim, and we’re going to tell you a little bit about it. Dysphagia, or swallowing impairment, affects
5% of the adult population worldwide. VitalStim is a non-invasive, FDA-cleared method
of therapy that can be used to help people with
swallowing problems. The treatment has shown good potential to provide significant and long-term improvements
in swallowing function. Through the use of neuromuscular electrical
stimulation, also known as NMES, swallowing muscles are targeted through placement of
electrodes on the face or neck. These electrodes are specifically designed
to target the muscles used in swallowing and allow for a small electrical current to pass
through the skin to the muscle fibers, resulting in contraction. While the VitalStim unit is on, the patient will continue with traditional dysphagia therapy, which may include exercises and trials of various food and liquid consistencies. [Lindsey]: Swallowing is the most functional exercise to strengthen the muscles of the throat, so repetitions of eating and drinking with VitalStim applied will maximize the strengthening
of muscles and help reteach those muscles to swallow. Repeated sessions of VitalStim, with traditional dysphagia therapy, can help promote positive
outcomes by improving strength of the swallowing muscles and restoring function. The VitalStim unit is portable and easy to carry, so it can be done in multiple settings. Treatment is administered by a certified clinician who leads the patient through a series of
instructions regarding the sensations felt during the progression of treatment. So we’re going to do a little demonstration of how VitalStim can be used. This is the VitalStim unit, and I have four electrodes that are attached to it. I’m going to place these on Maggie’s neck. There’s several different placements that
you can put the electrodes, depending upon the individual’s swallowing deficits and what
muscles we want to try and target. So I’m just going to place these on Maggie’s
neck. And then we can always wrap the patient’s
neck with gauze or some type of bandage to help keep these on, and keep them in place. At this point I would start turning the unit on and increasing the intensity. And then I would just keep talking to the patient and getting their feedback. We would try some liquid and solid consistencies and continue with the traditional dysphagia
therapy. [Maggie]: Thank you so much for listening.
If you have any questions about VitalStim or any of the other therapies that we have
here at Gateway, give us a call at 859-426-2400. [Lindsey]: Thank you!

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