Role of SLPs in Swallowing Rehabilitation

Normal swallowing process requires coordination of muscles and nerves to move solid or liquid from oral cavity to stomach. Swallowing occurs in three stages; oral, pharyngeal and esophageal stage.

Speech Language Pathologists are involved in clinical and objective assessment of swallowing process, diagnosis of swallowing problems, planning of swallowing rehabilitation, decision making for starting oral feed or removal of feeding tube.

Based on assessment, SLPs identify normal and abnormal swallowing anatomy and physiology. It helps in educating patient and their families about site of disorder. Video fluoroscopy swallow study findings help SLPs to explain visually which gives more satisfaction to patients. They know what, where is problem, gives better outcome with swallowing therapy. SLPs educate and counsel patients and their families for use of alternative feeding options such as Ryle’s tube, if patient cannot take oral feed safely or compromising with nutrition and hydration intake. They also educate other medical professionals regarding SLPs role in diagnosis and management of swallowing disorders.

SLPs monitors’ progress time to time, document improvement, referral to other medical professionals, practising safe swallow, and maintaining adequate nutrition. SLPs work as a key member of interdisciplinary swallowing or dysphagia management team.

SLPs update knowledge through webinars, seminars, and conferences on recent advances in dysphagia which helps further in treating dysphagia. In India, role of SLPs expanding in swallowing or dysphagia rehabilitation.  More and more SLPs are taking advanced training to work with population having swallowing problem. Speech Pathologists who are being trained for swallowing disorders are only involved in swallowing or dysphagia rehabilitation.


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