|Homewood health care experts use speech therapy to battle little-known cause of death for seniors|
|Local News Headlines|
|Written by Administrator|
|Wednesday, 21 March 2012 10:37|
Amedisys’ Speech-Language Pathology outcomes exceed national average by 19%
Homewood, Ala. – The simple act of swallowing is something many of us take for granted. Yet every year, approximately 10 million Americans are diagnosed with swallowing disorders, also known as dysphagia. Nearly all dementia patients develop dysphagia, and swallowing disorders are associated with stroke, progressive neurological disorders including multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s, as well as respiratory and other medical conditions.
In Homewood, the speech-language pathology program offered by Amedisys Home Health Lakeshore of Birmingham works with patients to recover their swallowing and communication skills. Last year, Amedisys’ speech-language pathology team helped patients meet nearly 71% of their treatment goals, compared with the national average of nearly 52%, according to the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association National Outcomes Measurement System report.
“People who have difficulty swallowing food and liquids open themselves up to a range of health problems, such as weight loss, poor nutrition, dehydration, choking and aspiration pneumonia, which happens when food or drink gets into the lungs. These conditions can erode a person’s quality of life and in some cases even threaten their life,” said David Hutchings, CCC-SLP.D., managing director of rehab services for Amedisys. “It’s crucial to help patients recover the ability to swallow.”
Over the past decade, the number of elderly Medicare patients who were admitted to the hospital for aspiration pneumonia increased by nearly 94%, said Dr. Hutchings. Aspiration pneumonia is one of the main types of pneumonia and hospitalizations in the elderly population.
Amedisys Home Health Lakeshore of Birmingham urges seniors and their loved ones to watch for, and talk to a health care professional about, the following symptoms of swallowing disorders:
• · Reports of a feeling that food is “sticking in the throat or chest.” This is the most common symptom of dysphagia, the sensation that food is stuck in the esophagus. · Coughing during or after eating or drinking. If food sticks in the throat or larynx, the body tries to dislodge the item through expectoration. In some severe cases, food may come back up in the mouth after being swallowed. · Gurgled speech. Swallowing disorders may cause adults to develop a “wet” vocal quality after eating or drinking. · Weight loss. Difficulties in swallowing food can lead to adults not getting proper nutrition, because they can’t eat enough to meet their dietary needs. · Pain in the chest or back. Retaining food in the esophagus can lead to heartburn-like symptoms. In some cases the pain can be so severe, that patients may think they are having a heart attack.
“By proactively treating swallowing disorders and using specialized feeding techniques, we can help to reduce unnecessary hospitalizations and improve the overall quality of life for our home health and hospice patients,” Dr. Hutchings said.
For more information about the Amedisys Speech-Language Pathology program and to locate an Amedisys care center in your area, please visit www.Amedisys.com/SLP.
For more information about the 2011 National Outcomes Measurement System report by the
American Speech-Language and Hearing Association, please visit http://www.asha.org/members/research/noms/.