VitalStim Therapy is a specialized form of neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) designed to treat dysphagia (swallowing problems) through muscle re-education.
Neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) has a long and proven track record in many areas of rehabilitation, and has been used for years by physical therapists to treat larger muscles, such as those in the legs, arms and shoulders.
However, VitalStim Therapy is the only device and therapy protocol cleared by the FDA to treat dysphagia.
VitalStim Therapy is a non-invasive therapy that uses an electrical current to stimulate the muscles responsible for swallowing while trained specialists help patients "re-educate" the muscles with special exercises.
The small, carefully calibrated current is delivered by specially designed electrodes, which are placed on the neck.
The current stimulates motor nerves in the throat while the patient practices swallowing exercises that cause the swallowing muscles to contract.
With repeated therapy, muscles are re-educated and the quality of the swallowing function improves.
Most treatment sessions are 60 minutes in duration and begin with the electrodes being placed on the skin at specific points on the neck.
Under the guidance of the medical practitioner, the patient practices various swallowing exercises.
Therapy sessions are repeated daily (or almost daily), until swallowing patterns have been restored to the desired level.
VitalStim Therapy has helped thousands of patients with dysphagia, including patients on feeding tubes.
VitalStim Therapy has established a solid history of providing safe and effective treatment. Since its introduction in 2002, there have been an estimated 400,000 separate treatment sessions, and VitalStim Therapy is still the only FDA-cleared neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) device for the treatment of dysphagia.
VitalStim Therapy must be prescribed by a physician after a thorough evaluation of your condition. It is administered under the direction of a certified health care professional, usually a speech language pathologist, who has undergone an intensive certification process and has at least three years of experience treating dysphagia.
Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute
Jane Chandler, MA, CCC-SLP, speech-language pathologist