Limiting the Effect of Swallowing Disorders
Swallowing disorders (or dysphagia) are common among patients with such diseases as stroke, Parkinson’s, head and neck cancers, and cardiovascular disease. Patients with swallowing disorders are at greater risk for pneumonia, malnutrition and dehydration. The condition can also cause choking when food or liquid enters the lungs. As well, swallowing disorders come with psychological consequences: choking leads patients to fear death and to avoid eating in public, which in turn can lead to depression and anxiety.
Dr. Rosemary Martino, Canada Research Chair in Swallowing Disorders, aims to determine whether early detection of swallowing disorders will decrease medical complications and improve recovery.
Martino has already determined that swallowing disorders occur in more than half of all acute stroke and critically-ill cardiovascular patients. She has developed tools that screen for swallowing disorders in stroke patients and that measure the medical consequences of dysphagia.
Her research will help determine whether early detection of swallowing disorders reduces medical complications and reliance on feeding tubes and increases patients’ quality of life.