Madison VA Hospital Funded to Start Swallow STRONG Clinic

Project Developers: JoAnne Robbins PhD, Nicole Pulia PhD, Nasia Safdar MD, PhD and Jacqueline Hind MS

Clinicians at the William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital in Madison WI recently received a $200,000 grant from the Department of Veterans Affairs to start an innovative new clinic – the Swallow STRengthening OropharyNgeal Gustatory (Swallow STRONG) Program.

The initiative provides an intensive oropharyngeal strengthening regimen designed to reduce health-related sequelae in veterans with dysphagia.  Patients complete 8 weeks of Isometric Progressive Resistance Oropharyngeal (I-PRO) therapy using the Madison Oral Strengthening Therapeutic (MOST) (U.S. patent # 6702765 ) device followed by a simple long-term oropharyngeal strength maintenance program facilitated by the Madison Oral-lever (MORE) (U.S. patent# 7438667) device.

The Swallow STRONG Clinic comprises a multidisciplinary team of speech language pathologists, nurse, dietitian and infectious disease physician who collaborate to provide innovative and optimal care to dysphagic veterans. The main goal of the Swallow STRONG Clinic is to improve swallowing/eating-related care for dysphagic veterans by providing strengthening therapy with information of performance translated immediately back to the patient. Evidence demonstrates these novel methods are effective for patients to restore or maintain safe and effective swallow function resulting in optimizing independence and improving health status, thereby reducing hospital admissions, length of stay and long-term institutionalization.