Speech-Language Pathologists are the primary providers for swallowing and feeding diagnosis and treatment.
Speech Pathologist Instructor at WTAMU, Ann Wallace, says, "What we do here is called flexible endoscopic evaluation of swallowing."
Ann Wallace is a speech language pathologist instructor for WT and also provides swallowing treatment for swallowing disorders related to stroke, head and neck cancer, neurological disease and pediatric swallowing disorders including behavioral feeding issues.
Ann explains, "It goes through the nose and about to the back of the oral cavity, and while it's in place we have the patient swallow different food consistencies and we can see where the food is going."
Some of the consistencies are water, fruit cocktail and pudding.
"So if a patient is consistently choking while they're eating we can see exactly why they're choking. We can see the liquid if they're choking on liquids. We can see the liquid down in their trachea or down in their vocal folds with that scope," explains Ann.
Once the evaluation is complete, the clinic provides treatment for the disorder.
Ann says, "For instance, if they have problems chewing or getting it from the front of their mouth to the back of their mouth, we can give them exercises to strengthen their oral structures. There are things they can do to prevent aspiration-- certain ways they can sit or certain ways they can turn their head. Lots of compensatory strategies, take smaller bites, that kind of thing."