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Patient Case Study


Anthony is an 89 year old patient admitted to Great Lakes Caring Home Health status post hospital
discharge with diagnosis of recent CVA. Anthony complained to the therapist of having a ‘tickle’ in
his throat at times, and the spouse reported a cough that occurred during meal times. Anthony was
unaware that the simple symptoms of a tickle or a cough might be residual effects of his recent CVA.
Through the physical therapist who performed the initial home assessment, Anthony was identified
with some potential problems of swallowing. His physician was notified of these findings. Speech
therapy was ordered to determine the type of swallowing disorder, and initiate treatment.

Anthony was found to have mild to moderate dysphagia and signs and symptoms of some aspiration.
The speech therapist initiated VitalStim® therapy, an Evidence-Based Practice (EBP) to his plan of
care. VitalStim® is a safe and effective treatment for patients suffering with difficulty swallowing or
dysphagia. It unites the power of electrical stimulation with the benefits of swallowing exercises to
accelerate strengthening, restore function and help the brain remap the swallow muscles.
The speech therapist worked with the Anthony two times per week to strengthen and reeducate
the throat muscles, and improve motor control for swallowing. With VitalStim®, by the second visit
Anthony noticed the effects of therapy, with reports of no coughing at night. With each following visit
Anthony reported feeling more reductions in his cough and tickle. Within a month, Anthony had no
signs or symptoms of aspiration.

Anthony’s dysphagia signs/symptoms decreased with increased awareness of swallowing precautions,
knowledge of how signs/symptoms occur and understanding of the importance of swallowing
exercises. After five weeks he was discharged with minimal risk for aspiration.


Presented by Sarah Thurston, LMSW
Great Lakes Caring Director of Education
October 2017