The Milton Home in South Bend, Indiana, has a full time Certified VitalStim Speech-Language Pathologist currently treating residents that have been diagnosed with dysphagia. Dysphagia is defined as a difficulty swallowing, which means it takes more time and effort to move food or liquid from a person’s mouth to his/her stomach. Severe dysphagia can possibly lead to the complete inability to drink or eat orally. Difficulty swallowing can greatly affect people’s well-being, leading to malnutrition, weight loss, dehydration, and respiratory problems including aspiration pneumonia. VitalStim therapy was created for people who have dysphagia, a condition effecting as many as 15 million Americans.
VitalStim is a FDA cleared method to promote swallowing through the application of neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) to the swallowing muscles in conjunction with conventional swallowing exercises, with the goal of strengthening and reeducating the muscular system and improving motor control of the swallowing mechanism. Combining VitalStim and traditional therapy with a Certified Speech Language Pathologist accelerates strengthening, restores function, and helps the brain remap the swallow function.
Outcome of vital stim use:
Improved ability to socialize
Improved ability to interact with others
Improved ability to eat or drink with no modifications
Candidates for treatment:
Patients on a modified diet
Patients at risk for aspiration
Patients who are demonstrating aspiration and/or penetration
VitalStim has/can be used on patients with the following diagnoses:
Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
Parkinson’s Disease (PD)
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)