Problems with swallowing can interfere with nutrition, enjoyment of food and even breathing. In severe cases, people may also develop pneumonia. If you or a loved one experience difficulty swallowing, our experienced physicians and speech-language pathologists (therapists) are here to help.
Swallowing Rehabilitation: Why Choose Johns Hopkins
- Founded in 1979, our swallowing rehabilitation program has been helping people with swallowing problems (dysphagia) for over 35 years.
- Our experienced rehabilitation physicians and speech-language therapists work together to provide well-rounded care from evaluation to therapy.
- Our dysphagia experts regularly meet with radiology, gastroenterology, otolaryngology, neurology, nutrition and oncology specialists as well as other experts to share knowledge and inform your treatment.
- Our swallowing rehabilitation program has received extensive funding from the National Institutes of Health to support research in the areas of swallowing and oral function, swallowing physiology and biomechanics, and swallowing rehabilitation in the ICU.
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Swallowing Disorders We Treat:
- Oropharyngeal dysphagia
- Esophageal dysphagia
- Neurogenic dysphagia
Our Approach to Treating Swallowing Disorders
Before recommending treatment, our specialists will locate and study the swallowing problem to get clues about its origin. They have a variety of tests at their disposal to help diagnose swallowing problems:
- Physical examination and swallowing tests
- Videofluorographic swallow study, also known as modified barium swallowing examination — an X-ray capture of the swallowing process
- Electrodiagnostic studies such as electromyography — the study of the muscles involved in swallowing
- Endoscopic evaluation — the use of a small camera to test sensation and swallowing patterns inside your throat
- Rehabilitation physicians (physiatrists) evaluate you and make treatment recommendations. They may prescribe medications, suggest changing your diet or recommend specific rehabilitation therapy.
- Speech-language therapists can help you train and strengthen the muscles involved in swallowing. They can also help you adjust your posture when you eat to make swallowing safer. Speech-language therapists work closely with people who want to improve their ability to eat or return to eating after having a feeding tube.
Swallowing disorders affect people with myositis, brain injuries and stroke, head and neck cancers, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and other neuromuscular and neurologic conditions. Treatment options vary and will depend on the exact cause of your problem.