Braithwaite Speech & Learning Clinic conducts swallowing assessments for people who experience difficulty swallowing. Here is a quick guide on how a swallowing assessment works, why you might need one, and what to expect if you need to undergo this assessment.
A swallowing assessment is a way of assessing what swallowing difficulties a person has, and the best way to intervene and offer them support.In Australia, this assessment is conducted by a qualified speech pathologist in a range of places, including aged care facilities, group homes and in the comfort of a person’s own residence.
Swallowing assessments (sometimes known as a ‘dysphagia assessment’) are for people who have dysphagia – the medical term used to describe having difficulty swallowing.
People may experiencedysphagia for all sorts of reasons: if they are seniors with weakening muscles; those living with dementia; those with poor cognitive function, poor muscle control and coordination; and those with other medical conditions that impact their ability to swallow.
Other clinical conditions that might cause dysphagia include stroke, head injury, Parkinson’s disease, motor neurone disease, cerebral palsy or achalasia (a condition that affects your oesophagus).
In a swallowing assessment, a speech pathologist will observe how you swallow, along with looking at your medical health, cognitive status, nutrition, communication ability and any environmental and behavioural factors that may be causing you to have trouble swallowing.
Two types of swallowing assessments may be conducted to help diagnose your problem: a non-instrumental swallowing assessment (an examination conducted without the use of implements, often called a ‘bedside swallowing assessment’) and an instrumental swallowing assessment, which uses instrumental techniques.
A clinical bedside swallowing assessment is when a qualified speech pathologist closely observes your swallow function, taking into accountother factors such as whether you experience fatigue during a meal, your posture and position while eating,and what your environment is like.
During the bedside swallowing assessment, the speech pathologist will look for signs and symptoms of dysphagia, and how severe they may be. They may do the following tasks:
A cranial nerve assessment
An assessment of your face, jaw, lips, tongue, palate, oral pharynx and the mucous inside your mouth
A functional assessment of the muscles you use to swallow
An assessment of your head-neck control, posture, oral reflexes and any involuntary movements you may make while you eat
A swallowing assessment is an important step towards finding the best treatment to help you swallow more safely and effectively.
The speech pathologist will evaluate your condition by putting together your case history, medical records, their physical examination, previous screenings you may have undergone, and information from your other caregivers and health professionals.
This helps them to:
Our dedicated team of highly qualified speech pathologists conductsswallowing assessments for people who have trouble swallowing. We are also an NDIS registered health provider, and conduct swallowing assessments for people living with disabilities. For more information or to book an appointment, get in touch by calling 02 9797 1880 or get in touch via email.
At Braithwaite Speech & Learning Clinic, we are committed to respecting everyone’s beliefs and cultural backgrounds.
Our qualified speech pathologists conduct bedside swallowing assessments in a way that is sensitive to each person’s religious, cultural and personal beliefs. We also consider how your culture may influence activities of daily living –including your dietary requirements,and any religious practices that may be associated with food and drink.