What are oral motor dysfunctions?
When a child has difficulty controlling their lips, mouth, tongue and jaw muscles, it leads to problems eating, speaking and swallowing. There are two parts of the swallow: oral and pharyngeal.
Oral dysphagia includes:
- difficulty with lip seal
- trouble chewing
- trouble forming a bolus
- nasal regurgitation
Pharyngeal dysphagia includes:
- difficulty initiating swallows
- wet or gurgly vocal quality
- the sensation of having something stuck in their throat
Patients with these challenges are at greater risk for choking, pneumonia, respiratory infections, dehydration, and even aspiration that occurs when food enters the airway.
What causes feeding and swallowing disorders?
There are several potential causes for these disorders, including:
- Cleft lip and/or cleft palate
- Acid reflux
- Muscle weakness
- Premature birth
- Nervous system disorders
- Heart attack
- Brain injury
How can speech language pathologists help those with feeding and swallowing disorders?
We work closely with patients, tailoring a treatment plan to help them overcome their feeding and swallowing challenges. Intervention may focus on strengthening muscles, improving drinking ability, increasing tongue movement, safe chewing and even altering diet to help with swallowing.
We have numerous therapists certified in VitalStim for neuromuscular stimulation and strengthening of the swallowing mechanism.
If you know someone facing challenges related to feeding or swallowing, remember that you aren’t alone. We will be glad to work with you, your child, and your doctor to find the appropriate course of treatment.