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Speech Therapy

If you have difficulty swallowing due to a stroke, Parkinson’s Disease, brain tumor, head injury, or anoxia (lack of oxygen to the brain and nervous system), you may have dysphagia and require the services of our licensed speech and language pathologist. Our speech pathologist can be reached at (207) 373-6327.

Dysphagia can result from a defect in any one of the three phases of swallowing. These phases are:

Oral phase

During the oral phase of swallowing, food is chewed by movement of the lower jaw and teeth. The chewed food forms a soft mass or bolus, which must then be moved by the tongue to the back of the mouth, ready for swallowing. During this phase the lips must be able to maintain a seal to prevent food leaking out of the mouth, and sufficient tension in the cheek muscles to prevent the food from getting caught between the jaw and the cheek. The oral phase of swallowing relies on voluntary muscle action initiated by the person who is eating.

Pharyngeal phase

The pharyngeal phase of swallowing is a reflex action, in which the food moves through the pharynx. It takes place in less than a second. During this phase, the tongue and the soft palate must work together to prevent food from entering the nasal cavity.

Once in the pharynx, the food is pushed down toward the esophagus by the action of the constricting muscles of the pharynx. The larynx (voice box)closes to prevent food from entering the trachea (airway).

Esophageal phase

This final phase of the swallowing process uses waves of muscle contraction to push the food down the esophagus, through the esophageal-gastric sphincter, and into the stomach.

The process of swallowing relies on a host of muscles and nerves in the face, neck and mouth to be successful. A disruption of any part of the process can result in an inability to swallow, leading to an inability to acquire and maintain proper nutrition.

If you or someone you love is affected by a swallowing disorder, contact Mid Coast Hospital Rehabilitation Department at (207) 373-6327, to make an appointment with our speech pathologist.

 
       
 

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