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People suffering from what’s called “dysphagia”

Wednesday November 24, 2010

University of Florida - People suffering from what’s called “dysphagia” have difficulty swallowing and may experience pain while eating or drinking.

Patients with Parkinson’s disease often have dysphagia and that can lead to substances getting caught in their airways, causing infections and potentially death.

Now a new University of Florida study shows Parkinson’s patients can improve their swallowing with training. Researchers say exhaling in this simple device can strengthen the muscles in your throat, which leads to improved swallowing.

Dr. Michelle Troche/UF speech language pathologist: “We found that people who had a degenerative swallowing problem were able to improve their swallowing with this device. Not just give them a crutch, not just a compensation, but actually fix a portion of the problem and make them safer swallowers.“

Experts consider the ability to swallow essential for survival. UF researchers say it is important to find new ways to deal with swallowing problems early to improve quality of life for people coping with Parkinson’s.

Dr. Michelle Troche/UF speech language pathologist: “I think for a long time we thought if someone had a degenerative disease and something goes wrong, you can’t fix it. That is not the case; we don’t believe that anymore. Our brains can change even in spite of some degenerative neurological disease.”

Researchers say doctors could also use this therapy for people who suffer strokes or other neurodegenerative diseases like multiple sclerosis.