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Swallowing (Dysphagia) Program

The Swallowing (Dysphagia) Program at Miami Valley Hospital’s Rehabilitation Institute of Ohio (RIO) provides comprehensive evaluation and therapy services to treat individuals who are experiencing difficulty swallowing (dysphagia).

Swallowing disorders can sometimes occur as a result of head injury, stroke, neck or head cancer, degenerative disease and neurological disorders. Our expert staff has accumulated hundreds of hours of experience treating complex dysphagia cases. RIO speech pathologists deliver a diagnosis and treatment plan based upon expert perspectives.

Conditions Treated

DysphagiaThe Swallowing Program at RIO treats oropharyngeal dysphagia (difficulty passing food, drink or saliva from the mouth to the esophagus). Impairment can occur during different stages of the swallowing process:

  • Oral dysphagia – impairs sucking, chewing and moving food or liquid into the throat
  • Pharyngeal dysphagia – impairs the swallowing reflex that moves food down the throat and closes off the airway to prevent choking or aspiration (food or liquid entering the airway)


The RIO Swallowing Program offers comprehensive swallowing evaluation and treatment services, including:

  • Clinical Swallowing/Oral Motor Evaluation – This is the first step to diagnosing dysphagia. During this evaluation, our speech pathologist views how the muscles of the face and throat work together to enable swallowing. The patient’s ability to swallow different types of food and drink are also evaluated.
  • Instrumental Swallowing Evaluation – After a Clinical Swallowing/Oral Motor Evaluation is completed, the speech pathologist may recommend further evaluation using one of the techniques below:
    • Videofluoroscopy (Modified Barium Swallow) – This procedure is performed by a speech pathologist and a radiologist. The patient swallows food and liquid that also contain barium (a substance that can be seen with an x-ray). An x-ray video is taken of the mouth and throat while the patient swallows. The speech pathologist evaluates the safety and efficiency of swallowing. During this examination, the patient may be instructed to try different swallowing techniques to see if the swallowing function improves.
    • FEES (Fiberoptic Endoscopic Evaluation of Swallowing) – This procedure is performed by a speech pathologist. A small tube (scope) is inserted through the nose to observe the muscles in the throat that control the ability to protect the airway while swallowing.
  • Swallowing Therapy – Swallowing therapy is based on individual needs and may include:
    • Diet modification training
    • Strategies and techniques to help patients swallow more effectively
    • Exercises to strengthen muscles used for swallowing

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