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Dr. Frank
Dr. Frank, Board Certified Physician
Category: Neurology
Satisfied Customers: 9000
Experience:  Board certified general Adult Neurologist, with experience in experimental neuroimaging and neurodiagnostics.
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My father is 96--is susceptible to pneumonia--currently

Customer Question

My father is 96--is susceptible to pneumonia--currently hospitalized with it. He did not "pass the swallow test," so the doctors are pushing a feeding tube. The speech pathologist, however, indicated that my father would be a candidate for electronic muscular stimulation(??) to help him swallow. He is apparently aspirating food/beverages which contribute to the pneumonia. I would like to know if this seems like a feasible option, and if so, the pros and cons. Thank you.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Neurology
Expert:  Dr. Frank replied 1 year ago.

Hello Welcome to JA. I will review your statement then come back to reply. Dr Frank

Expert:  Dr. Frank replied 1 year ago.

Hello. There are two types of stimulators for esophageal dysmotility disorders that I am aware of. One is a stimulator that is placed by endoscopy into the area of the LES (the lower esophageal sphincter) that prevents GERD or gastroesophageal reflux and the risk of aspiration or getting food into the lungs especially when sleeping. this is a common problem in the elderly with pneumonia, hence we keep them elevated in bed and feed them with a feeding tube small amounts. I am not sure if you are speaking of that type of stimulator, or the other, which is an external surface electrode stimulator that you put onto muscles of the throat that are involved in the swallowing reflex, namely digastric, genioglossus, and sternocleidomastoid, I think the thyroglossus as well. Anyway,, that is commonly used in the hospital by speech pathology in the elderly with swallowing disorders as measured by barium swallow or cinetography proceedures looking at his swallowing. Let me know when device you are questioning and I will get back to you with a useful answer. Dr Frank

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
It is the second type that you describe (external).
Expert:  Dr. Frank replied 1 year ago.

The second type works well but you need to be trained on its use. There are really no side effects but the efficiency is limited sometimes at home. You need to work with a speech pathologist with that one, for placement of surface electrons. If you have the brand or the name of the simulator I can give you more information.

Expert:  Dr. Frank replied 1 year ago.


Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Once discharged from the hospital, he will be at a skilled nursing facility with a speech pathologist. The speech pathologist at the hospital is trained, but I don't know about the speech pathologist at the nursing home. Is this a procedure that requires continual application?
Expert:  Dr. Frank replied 1 year ago.

As he begins to ambulate this should become much less of a problem. But I would suggest you speak with the hospital speech pathologist so that your trained as well and you don't have to rely on another person.