Why swallowing is crucial for quality of life: New resource for individuals, parents, carers and NDIS support coordinators
As part of Speech Pathology Awareness Week, a new educational video will be launched by NDIS allied health provider LiveBig to explain why swallowing is crucial for quality of life, what to look out for and where to get help if problems arise. The video is particularly relevant for individuals on an NDIS plan, as well as their parents, carers and support coordinators.
“Many people think that speech pathology is all about communication, but swallowing is also an important area that specialists focus on,” says LiveBig’s CEO, Marcella Romero. “Incredibly, humans swallow approximately 700 times a day – it is essential to everyday life. Not only is it critical to enable a person to eat or drink effectively, it is also essential to helping them to confidently participate in the world.”
“That is why we felt it was important to develop this new video to clearly explain the various aspects involved in being able to swallow and eat properly and how speech pathologists can help people have a better quality of life.”
Swallowing is the process that allows a person to manage their saliva as well as eat and drink, utilising the muscles of the mouth, tongue and neck. Many medical conditions and poor posture may cause problems with swallowing, which is also known as ‘dysphagia’.
Dysphagia includes any problem with swallowing, drinking, chewing, eating, sucking, controlling saliva, taking medication, or stopping food or liquid from entering the lungs.
LiveBig speech pathologist, Cheryl Prasad, says that issues with swallowing present a number of risks if left untreated.
“Often the first sign of a swallowing problem is coughing, gagging or choking when eating and drinking. Food and drink can go down the wrong way into a person’s windpipe and lungs and put a person at risk of choking, chest infections, reflux, poor nutrition and dehydration.”
“However, left untreated, swallowing disorders can have a devastating effect on a person’s physical and emotional well-being,” continues Cheryl. “For example, it can reduce opportunities for social participation due to the person avoiding gatherings that involve food. It can also limit a person’s decision-making or control by not being able to eat what they want. Ultimately, eating and drinking can become a very unpleasant experience and can lead to other health concerns.”
Cheryl says there are many ways that a speech pathologist can work with individuals to regain their basic right to swallow.
“At LiveBig, the clients I typically work with to improve swallowing are those with an intellectual disability and / or severe Autism Spectrum Disorder. The main things I do are observe their ability to swallow, do a mealtime assessment and then and then develop a mealtime management or therapy plan to help support the person’s swallowing skills.”
CEO Marcella Romero encourages people interested in learning more to access the video or discuss their needs with LiveBig.
“Swallowing problems can occur at any stage of life, yet its implications remain largely unknown for most Australians. LiveBig speech pathologists are on hand to help and we hope this new video can provide some important information to improve the quality of life of those experiencing swallowing difficulties.”
The new speech pathology video can be accessed at: https://www.livebig.com.au/speech-pathology-week-2020-swa/
For more information visit www.livebig.com.au