Treatment of patients with dysphagia
A large number of our clients with neurological disorders or patients in a vegetative state suffer from neurogenic dysphagia (swallowing disorder). At our rehabilitation center we take ingestion disorders very seriously.
At the beginning of the treatment we perform an extensive logopedic assessment of the swallowing function. In a swallowing test we examine the general parameters of swallowing and establish a diagnosis of dysphagia. The test reveals whether the client is able to ingest food and liquids.
Many of our clients get their nutrition through a PEG tube. In many cases the clients have not ingested nutrition for years. If we find that the swallowing function can be restored we start with an intensive functional and compensatory dysphagia therapy consisting of feeding small amounts of food at regular intervals and under logopedic supervision.
Since our cook is specially trained in preparing a healthy dysphagia diet consisting of different diet levels made of high quality products we have the possibility to train our clients to eat independently.
When the patient is making progress we try within the next step to continuously increase oral intake and to reduce artificial feeding. This way we have often accomplished a withdrawal of tube feeding after repeated treatment at our house.
I want to mention the example of a 25 year old client with vegetative state after traumatic brain injury who after 7 years of artificial feeding has been able to ingest food again and whose swallowing function was partly intact. Today he is able to eat small amounts of pureed diet.
Olaf Grosse-Freese, speech therapist in the Zentrum der Rehabilitation, Pforzheim Field: Dysphagia