VitalStim Therapy System

VitalStim Therapy

Submitted by Kelly Skillestad

Kelly Skillestad, Speech-Language Pathologist received her Master of Science in Speech Therapy from Florida Atlantic University in 2004 and certified in the VitalStim Therapy System since 2010.

Dysphagia, or difficulty swallowing, can occur either with normal aging or as a result
of a neurological disease, such as a stroke. Estimates conclude that as many as 15
million Americans currently suffer from some level of dysphagia, with an additional
1 million people receiving a dysphagia diagnosis every year.
Swallowing difficulty can potentially lead to significant complications such as
malnutrition, dehydration, aspiration pneumonia and choking.
Since its introduction in 2003, there are approximately 24,000 Speech-Language
Pathologists who are trained in and use VitalStim as an adjunct modality while
performing exercises to improve swallow function with both children and adults.
This approach of using VitalStim in conjunction with traditional swallowing therapy
has been proven to be a safe and effective way to improve swallowing, accelerate the
recovery time from a restricted diet, as well as sustain improvements long-term.
The VitalStim Therapy System is a non-invasive approach using NMES
(neuromuscular electrical stimulation) to facilitate swallowing exercises. The goal
is to strengthen muscles and improve motor control for safe swallowing. Combining
sensory and motor stimulation to facilitate functional exercises can optimize a
person’s ability to swallow efficiently.
The Rehabilitation Center for Children and Adults uses the VitalStim Therapy
System under the guidance of a trained and certified Speech-Language Pathologist.

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