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An estimated 15 million Americans are afflicted with dysphagia, a condition that causes discomfort or difficulty swallowing. At its most severe—when patients entirely lose their ability to eat—dysphagia can profoundly disrupt a life. VitalStim therapy, the only FDA-approved therapy for dysphagia, helps patients return to normalcy.
Dysphagia is common among stroke survivors, patients with neurological disorders like Parkinson's disease and patients with head and neck cancer. It disproportionately affects the elderly—an estimated half of all nursing home residents suffer from it.
VitalStim therapy uses small electrical currents to stimulate the muscles responsible for swallowing. A small, carefully calibrated current is delivered by specially-designed electrodes. The current stimulates motor nerves in the throat to the muscles that allow you to swallow. The only reported adverse affects are slight, occasional redness of the skin.
In combination with VitalStim therapy, trained specialists help patients "re-educate" their muscles through rehabilitation therapy. VitalStim therapy must be prescribed by a doctor.