Our speech pathologist can provide feeding and swallowing therapy. Chewing and swallowing difficulties are medically classified as “dysphagia”.
The swallowing clinic at The OT Clinic offers specialized assessment and intervention for dysphagia diagnosis and management.
What is dysphagia?
Dysphagia is the difficulty using and coordinating muscles needed to drink, chew and propel food and fluids safely past the airway and into the oesophagus. Everyone with dysphagia has a different presentation of difficulty. This means each person with dysphagia needs their own individual dysphagia assessment and management plan developed by a speech pathologist trained in dysphagia management, the speech pathologist will also need to discuss management with the child’s occupational therapist, dietitian, and sometimes physiotherapist.
Management of dysphagia
A person or child presenting with dysphagia is also at risk of dehydration and malnutrition, and therefore needs a management plan which is aimed at protecting the airway and supports nutritional intake. The dysphagia management plan will describe adaptions for the person’s positioning, feeding assistance, utensils, food textures, fluid consistencies, quantities, timing of food and fluids, nutritional supplement, and feeding behaviour.
Safe to Swallow Food & Fluid Consistencies
Modified solid food and fluid consistencies are typically used when a dysphagia is diagnosed. The type of fluid consistency or food texture will be prescribed by the speech pathologist after completing oral motor and swallowing examinations. If a person cannot swallow or their airway cannot be safely protected, enteral feeding is usually recommended.
Every person and child’s feeding and swallowing challenges are different and require individual assessment and intervention to ensure their individual eating and drinking needs are met and airway and respiration function is protected and maintained.