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A closer look at the swallowing process after a medical event

Most of us eat and swallow without thinking about what is happening, but swallowing actually is a very complicated process involving the brain, nerves, various muscles, two valves and the esophagus. When a person is healthy, the swallowing process happens like clockwork. But after a stroke or other health emergencies, parts of this process can be affected. Since most of this happens inside the body, it can be challenging to figure out which parts are not working.

Seeing inside the mouth and throat
There are several signs that this process is not working correctly. Frequent choking, pain when swallowing or slow movement of food through the esophagus are some signals that parts are not working correctly, according to the American Speech Language Hearing Association. If the airway is not being closed during swallowing, a person may develop pneumonia. In order to address these issues, a speech-language pathologist can perform a special test known as a videofluoroscopic swallowing study or VFSS. This test can help the pathologist see what is going on in the mouth and throat to find the places where there are problems.

The VFSS process
In order to track what is happening, people undergoing the study will need to drink and eat different foods that have been mixed with barium. The reason barium is added to the food is that barium shows up on an x-ray. Barium is not harmful and does not remain in the body for long. During the study, the speech-language pathologist asks you to try eating foods that are hard and soft and liquids that are thick and thin. The pathologist may also ask you to move your head different ways or swallow differently. The x-ray machine will record the different swallowing scenarios. Many times the process is recorded so that it can be seen by other professionals involved in your care.

When the results are in
By viewing the process, speech-language pathologists are able to see where there are weaknesses. They can then suggest ways to address these issues. The solution may be simple like cutting food into smaller pieces, chewing food longer or taking smaller bites. There may also be certain foods that should be avoided or thickened to make them safer. For more complicated issues, swallowing therapy may also be recommended.

Treatment in one location
When recovering from surgery or a hospital stay after a stroke, brain injury or other conditions, swallowing problems can occur. Choosing to recover in a post-hospital rehabilitation center like Glenview Terrace where any swallowing problems can be quickly addressed on site can assure a safe and effective recovery process.

Glenview Terrace is a leader in post-hospital transitional care. In addition to being able to provide VFSS studies on site, Glenview Terrace offers an aggressive blend of traditional and advanced rehabilitation services to get you quickly back on your feet. The many services offered include one-on-one physical, occupational and speech therapy up to seven days a week, as well as neurological, cardiac and stroke rehabilitation and respiratory therapies. Glenview Terrace also has an expert staff ready to address special needs including pain and diabetes management. Their care team stands ready around the clock to address whatever needs arise.

This superior care is all offered in an upscale environment with such amenities as daily delivery of coffee and newspaper in your own room, beautifully landscaped grounds with a tranquil fountain, concierge service, an executive business center, and wireless high-speed Internet. With all their needs taken care of, guests can focus on recovery and enjoy a little pampering too.

When it is time to go home, the discharge planning experts at Glenview Terrace will assess needs and arrange for the proper services and equipment for a safe and successful transition.

Contact Glenview Terrace today to see why they are the preferred choice for post-hospital transitional care. For additional information or to arrange a tour, visit or call 847-729-9090.

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