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Exercise-Based Treatments for Dysphagia

presented by Debra Suiter, PhD, CCC-SLP, BCS-S, F-ASHA

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Disclosure Statement:


Deb Suiter receives royalties from MedBridge and from Thieme Medical Publishers. She is an employee of the University of Kentucky. She also receives compensation from MedBridge for this course.


Deb Suiter is an ASHA CFCC Volunteer.

Satisfactory completion requirements: All disciplines must complete learning assessments to be awarded credit, no minimum score required unless otherwise specified within the course.

MedBridge is committed to accessibility for all of our subscribers. If you are in need of a disability-related accommodation, please contact [email protected]. We will process requests for reasonable accommodation and will provide reasonable accommodations where appropriate, in a prompt and efficient manner.

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Video Runtime: 72 Minutes, Learning Assessments: 43 Minutes

Treatment for dysphagia has long included the use of exercises designed to improve muscle strength. Many of the traditional exercises for dysphagia have been based on concepts developed by physical therapies for treatment of limb muscles. However, it remains unclear whether these same principles can be applied effectively to the muscles involved in swallowing. Additionally, little guidance has existed regarding how to incorporate specific exercises for the treatment of dysphagia. In this course, we will discuss principles of strength training and how they are being incorporated into newer dysphagia treatments. Patient and care partner factors that should be considered when developing treatment plans will also be reviewed.

Meet Your Instructor

Debra Suiter, PhD, CCC-SLP, BCS-S, F-ASHA

Debra Suiter is the director of the Voice and Swallow Clinic and an associate professor in the Division of Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Kentucky. She earned her master's and doctoral degrees at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Dr. Suiter has been a speech-language pathologist for 24 years and…

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Chapters & Learning Objectives

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1. Choosing an Effective Treatment Paradigm

In this chapter, we will explore how clinicians choose the treatments they use. We will review strength training principles and discuss whether strength is an appropriate treatment target for individuals with dysphagia.

2. Current State of the Field

We will discuss several currently available treatments for dysphagia. Specifically, how these treatment programs have sought to incorporate principles of strength and skill training will be discussed.

3. Other Considerations

Factors aside from treatment targets (e.g., strengthening specific muscles to improve swallow function) must be considered. In this chapter, we will discuss patient and care partner–related factors that should be taken into account when planning treatment.

4. Questions and Answers

This chapter summarizes the course and provides clinical pearls to take home. Speech pathologists will dive deeper into dysphagia treatment approaches.

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