A new type of therapy called VitalStim is now available at the Sanford Luverne Medical Center Rehab Services Department for those dealing with swallowing difficulties, poor voice quality, food aspirations, and other related issues.
Sanford Luverne Speech-Language Pathologist Patricia Halse recently became trained and certified to offer VitalStim therapy, which uses neuromuscular electrical stimulation to help strengthen and re-educate the throat muscles used in swallowing.
Approximately 15 million Americans have difficulty swallowing. Some may also experience poor voice quality (soft or scratchy voice), aspirating (inhaling food or liquid into airways), or difficulty clearing their throats. These symptoms may follow a stroke, a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease or ALS, or result from weakened muscles due to the normal aging process.
VitalStim therapy involves applying electrodes from the VitalStim device to the neck area. When the device is turned on, a small amount of electrical current is applied to targeted muscles while the speech-language pathologist guides the patient through various swallowing activities and exercises. The treatment is typically pain-free and has no risks or side effects.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration cleared VitalStim for use in 2001. Since then, it has served as a safe, effective treatment for people with swallowing difficulties.
For more information about VitalStim therapy, call the Sanford Luverne Medical Center Rehab Services Department at (507) 449-1229.