Feeding / Dysphagia Evaluation
Our Feeding/Dysphagia Evaluation thoroughly examines all aspects of your infant/child’s feeding and swallowing abilities. We start with a lengthy questionnaire that addresses medical history and the impact of feeding stress on your child and on your family. In our warm home-like environment, we gently but thoroughly evaluate the structure of your child’s oral musculature, we will observe your child’s oral sensory and oral motor function during eating. We will make sure that the oral motor and sensory systems are intact and not interfering with or contributing to your child’s feeding and swallowing problems. We also look at your child’s overall muscle tone, respiration and phonation, ribcage development and movement, indicators of tongue and lip tie, reflux, allergy or other GI issues, and behaviors that may pertain to feeding and swallowing.
Our evaluation can identify potential problems with your child’s feeding and swallowing abilities. The most critical issues are safety, specifically: obstruction or aspiration (the entrance of food/liquid into the airway). These dangerous conditions can result in coughing and choking, frequent illnesses including colds and congestion, breathing problems and pneumonia. If these issues are suspected, an oral pharyngeal motility study will be recommended.
Oral Pharyngeal Motility Study
An Oral Pharyngeal Motility Study (OPMS) or Modified Barium Swallow Study (MBS), the “gold standard” evaluation of swallowing, is a videofluoroscopic (videotaped x-ray) study of oral (mouth), pharyngeal (throat) and upper esophageal anatomy and physiology to allow for more through evaluation of your child’s swallowing abilities. This assessment is completed in the pediatric imaging center in tandem with a pediatric radiologist. Your child will swallow a variety of his or her foods and liquids coated with barium, a contrast substance that enables the food to show up on x-ray. This study of swallowing provides information about the risks of aspiration (penetration into the airway), obstruction and nasopharyngeal regurgitation (penetration into the nose) and will guide treatment programming specific to your child’s specific needs. We tape these studies so that we can show and educate you and other members of your child’s medical team about your child’s specific swallowing patterns and difficulties.
Our practice is the only freestanding outpatient facility in Florida that has the expertise to provide these specialty studies for their patients.
Feeding / Dysphagia Therapy
Feeding and dysphagia therapy goals are identified and established based on our thorough evaluations. All therapy is individualized to meet the needs of each patient and their family.
Many of our patients utilize our STEP program (Systematic Therapeutic Eating Program). This proprietary program, based on research and over 30 years of clinical experience, will teach your child the correct skills to safely eat and swallow a wide variety of age-appropriate, nutrient dense foods. These skills lead to a lifetime of healthy choices.
Parents are encouraged to participate in therapy. Home carryover and practice programs are provided. We work closely with each infant or child’s family to ensure that their goals are addressed and progress is maximized. We foster close partnerships with our parents and value their feedback and input. We know that this significantly contributes to our high rate of success.
Myofunctional Swallow Evaluation and Therapy (Tongue Thrusts)
Myofunctional therapy corrects improper function of the tongue and facial muscles used at rest, for chewing and swallowing. Our evaluation and therapy addresses and corrects the cause of the problem which enables long lasting change. PFSA works closely with your dentist, orthodontist, and any medical doctor to verify that all potential interfering factors are thoroughly addressed. This will ensure the fastest progress possible.
Can’t do Therapy Now
If you are unable to attend therapy, you may be helped by our Feeding Coach or our Feeding University (Feeding U). While this is not therapy and not covered by your insurance, it can provide tips and strategies to reduce child and family stress and start you on the path to a happier mealtime for you and your child.