The Specialist Multidisciplinary Management of Dysphagia

Dysphagia is defined as ‘difficulty in moving food, liquid, saliva or medication from the mouth to the stomach’ or ‘difficulty in swallowing’. Its consequences include dehydration, malnutrition, aspiration and asphyxiation. It can also have a negative impact on quality of life (Lecko 2014).

Approximately 8% of the world’s population is affected by dysphagia. In the developed world this amounts to 99 million individuals (Chichero et al, cited by Lecko 2014). Despite this the prevalence of dysphagia is perhaps under recognised amongst healthcare professionals, with research suggesting 30% of patients with stroke and 60-80% of patients with neurodegenerative diseases are affected (Martino et al, cited by Lecko 2014). Estimates also suggest that between 10 – 30% of adults over the age of 65 and 51% of the institutionalised elderly have dysphagia (Horner et al, cited by Lecko 2014).

The prevalence and effects of dysphagia bring challenges to its management. Recognising and diagnosing dysphagia is just the start; the language used in its treatment (i.e. how the thickness of fluids and food are described), the type of foods provided as a result, the nutritional composition of texture modified foods, and the administration of medications are some of the other long-standing problems. As a result of this Dietitians and Speech and Language Therapists (SLTs) are core members of the multi-disciplinary team (MDT) working with people affected by Dysphagia.

FeedbackThese professionals are keen to continue to build on their knowledge of the condition and improve nationwide practice in this area. As a result, and following the success of their joint conference in 2013, the BDA East and West of Scotland Branches and the Scotland Speech and Language Therapists’ Dysphagia CEN, will again join forces to host another stimulating conference of expert lecture and debate which you too can join.

As the theme of the conference suggests, this conference will be entirely relevant and informative not only to SLTs and Dietitians, but to all members of the MDT. The expert speakers come from a range of disciplines, including Physiotherapy, Pharmacy and Oral health, as well as Speech and Language Therapy and Dietetics. Together they will explore the updated evidence base in current topics that affect a great many patients with dysphagia, including medicines administration, enteral feeding and gastro-oesophageal reflux and debate approaches to dysphagia management.

Conference delegates will also have the opportunity to explore exciting new ideas and products in dysphagia assessment and care at a range of displays, including: a new decision-making tool for dysphagia patients by Talking Mats, and the opportunity to sample some of the dysphagia ranges by Appetito and Wiltshire farm foods.

Places are limited, so have a look at the timetable, the list of specialist topics and speaker biographies, and book your place ASAP so you can be a part of this exciting event:<>



Cichero J, Steele C, Duivestein J et al (2013) The Need for International Terminology and Definitions for Texture-Modified Foods and Thickened Liquids Used in Dysphagia Management: Foundations of a Global Initiative Current Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Reports 1 :280 – 291

Horner J, Alberts MJ, Dawson DV, Cook GM. Swallowing in Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer Dis Assoc Disord. 1994;8(3):177 – 89.

Lecko C. The Dysphagia Diet Descriptors – Development and Progress. Dietetics Today November 2014.

Martino R, Foley N, Bhogal S, Diamant N, Speechley M, Teasell R. Dysphagia after stroke: incidence, diagnosis, and pulmonary complications. Stroke. 2005;36:2756–63


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