Do you think much about all the steps it takes you to swallow? Speech therapists in Englewood NJ know that this seemingly simple act is actually a coordinated process requiring multiple steps! From getting the food to your mouth, to keeping it in your mouth, to chewing and swallowing without choking and more, eating and drinking should not be taken for granted. Indeed, those with brain injuries, multiple sclerosis, ALS, cerebral palsy, those who have survived a stroke, and many others notice challenges with swallowing and feeding on a daily basis. Read on to see how speech therapists in Englewood NJ help to address these problems!
Diagnosis and Evaluation
Swallowing and feeding problems are usually diagnosed by a combination of many medical providers. In Englewood, NJ, speech therapists, nutrition experts, and primary care physicians are often involved, as well as neurological specialists. Special tools, such as a barium swallow, can be used to help professionals visualize what happens when a patient swallows, helping to determine the appropriate interventions. For people who experience choking or coughing, food or drink that always “goes down the wrong tube,” or problems breathing during meals, careful evaluation is necessary.
Just like speech language pathologists help people to move their lips, jaws, and tongues while talking, experts in speech therapy can help you to move your lips, jaw, and tongue while eating and swallowing. This may include changing the position of your head and neck to make it easier, building muscles to chew and swallow more effectively, and timing out the swallowing and breathing process so you can do both at the same time. Exercises and practice are used to strengthen these skills appropriately.
Support and Management
Not all swallowing problems can be completely resolved. However, this doesn’t mean that you should just “give up.” Instead, work with a speech therapist in Englewood NJ to manage your swallowing needs. For example, your speech therapist can recommend the proper thickness of foods that will be safe for you, or may connect you with dietary tools such as thickeners for liquids or thinners for thicker foods. They can help you learn how to blend or puree foods and will give you and your loved ones tips on how to make these as tasty as possible so you can enjoy your meals.
Ready to start swallowing better? Eating and drinking are an important part of your life, and expert speech therapists in Englewood, NJ can help you to do both!