VitalStim Therapy is the latest treatment for people diagnosed with dysphagia or who have trouble swallowing. VitalStim therapy uses neuromuscular electrical stimulation to aid muscle strengthening to rehabilitate the swallow. Therapy is typically administered three to five days a week for one hour. Most patients can expect their VitalStim Therapy program to last one month.
A typical session begins with a therapist cleansing the skin with a special alcohol swab. The therapist then attaches electrodes from the VitalStim device to the neck. Once turned on, the device provides stimulation to the target muscles. For the next 60 minutes, the therapist coaches the patient through active swallowing exercises that include food and liquids that are deemed appropriate by the therapist.
VitalStim therapy is effective in patients with the following conditions:
- De-conditioning as a result of age or co-morbidity
- Head and neck cancer (post radiation) and/or surgery
- Neuromuscular disease processes (e.g., Parkinson’s, ALS, etc.)