What is VitalStim Therapy?
A trained, certified specialist uses a device that provides a small current that passes through external electrodes on the anterior neck or cheek, while trying to stimulate atrophied / inactive muscles for swallowing. Patients with dysphagia that may struggle with chewing, initiating a swallow, or show signs of penetration, silent aspiration or aspiration with various food consistencies can remediate their ability to swallow with this treatment approach.
Aspiration is the medical term for inhaling small particles of food, drops of liquid or stomach content into the lungs. Aspiration pneumonia is one of the leading causes of death among the elderly. A large percentage of pneumonia arises from aspiration. It is the fifth leading cause of death of Americans over the age of 65, and the third leading cause of death in those over 85. (LaCroix et al. 1989)
Silent Aspiration is the movement of a liquid, solid bolus or stomach content into the trachea below the vocal cords, without clinical signs such as choking, color change, or change in respiration.
Who is a typical patient?
- Brain injury / insult
- Post tracheostomy decannulation
- Long term vent dependent patients
- Head and neck cancer post radiation and/or surgery
- De-conditioning as a result of age or co-morbidity
- Neurological degenerative disease
How Do I Receive VitalStim?
- Physician must write a prescription that says VitalStim
- Contact a speech language pathologist that is certified
- A clinical evaluation will be performed to determine if one is a candidate
- For more information please visit vitalstimtherapy.com