Swallowing and VitalStim™


Our ability to safely swallow is important for maintaining our health, nutrition and quality of life. Eating and drinking not only bring enjoyment through taste and texture but also through the ability to enjoy a meal with loved ones. Boone’s speech-language pathologists treat swallowing disorders across the lifespan.

Swallow dysfunction (dysphagia) arises from impairments in how our mouth and throat prepare and swallow food and liquid. Boone Hospital offers instrumental swallowing assessments, including modified barium swallow studies (MBSS) to determine your specific swallowing impairment. Our speech-language pathologists will spend one-on-one time with you thoroughly explaining the results of the assessment. They will then design a personalized treatment plan and provide recommendations to improve your ability to safely swallow. Treatment may include modifying your diet, teaching you strategies for safe swallowing, and performing swallowing exercises. Specifically, your treatment may include expiratory muscle strength training (EMST) and VitalStimTM (neuromuscular electrical stimulation).


Boone’s Speech-Language Pathologists are specially trained and certified to use VitalStim™ as a non-invasive form of neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES). In conjunction with traditional swallowing (dysphagia) therapy, VitalStim™ targets the strength and coordination of our swallowing muscles. Through electrodes placed on the neck or face, the device provides electrical stimulation to the nerves that control our swallowing muscles. This helps activate and retrain our swallowing muscles to work together in a stronger, more synergistic way. VitalStimTM may help you improve the ease of chewing and swallowing and reduce your risk of aspiration or choking.