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Swallowing Problem following brain stem stroke

Hi there

My dad had a brain stem stoke two months ago.  He is being fed by a PEG system as he has lost the ability to swallow.

I was hoping someone may be able to share their experience of a similar situation and advise on any treatments available that may help to stimulate the swallowing reflex.

Many thanks

Best wishes

5 Responses
Avatar universal
Is your father receiving therapy from a Speech Therapist. They know the muscles of the face, neck and throat and are experts. See if you can get an evaluation by a ST with experience helping stroke victims.
Avatar universal
My dad had a massive stroke in December of 2007.  He is currently being fed by a PEG tube and I have spent countless hours researching anything that might help.  I found a system called Vital Stim Therapy.  The therapy uses a machine that massages the muscles used for swallowing.  I believe it stimulates the area with electrical impulses.  

The treatment is said to be highly successful.  98% show improvement with about 35% being able to swallow and eventually remove the PEG tube.  From my research it seems like good results are noticed from from 6-21 treatments.

The treatment is given 3 times a week for 30-60 minutes per day.  I have the prescription for my dad to start the treatment, I just have to work on transporting him to the nearest facility that offers it.

Call me anytime if you want more info or look it up under Vital Stim. Therapy.

Avatar universal
My husband had a brainstem stroke 10/3/07 at the age of 41, and he also had some swallowing issues following the stroke.  He did not end up needing a PEG tube but had great difficulty in trying to swallow anything and had to use suction to help get out the food he was not able to swallow.  When he was in the hospital and inpatient rehab, they had a speech therapist come to assess his swallowing ability, and the therapists gave him swallowing exercises to help improve his ability.  They had him on a mechanical soft diet with thickened liquids at first, and even that diet was difficult for him for a while.  However, he can now eat most normal foods - it is a bit of exertion for him and still tires him out a bit, but he can eat foods that don't require lots of chewing and can drink non-thickened liquids again.

I'm glad to see the suggestion for Vital Stim therapy - we heard good things about it and thought it would be ordered for my husband (although it actually was not).  I would think that something like that in combination with exercises to strengthen the swallowing reflex may help him out a lot.  Definitely talk to a speech therapist - they can do an evaluation to see where he is and determine the best step to take next.

Avatar universal

I had a brainstem stroke 10/05.  I was not able to swallow anything, not even my saliva. therefore, I had to have a PEG installed.  I was sent to a speech therapist and was doing therapy with a metal longstem mirror that dentists use.  She put the mirror part off the instrument in ice water and then rubbed it back and forth over the left bridge part of my throat trying to stimulate and a reminder to start the swallowing mechanism again.  I was able to do this at home too.  Eventually after 5 months, I found I could swallow my saliva!!!  Now I eat almost anything.  I do choke on foods if I don't pay attention to my chewing and swallowing and just recently, I had a real bad choking spell by just swallowing my saliva.

The left side of my is weak, my body temperature doesn't work properly.  I can't feel the difference between hot and cold, my sensories don't work on the left side, and a few other problems.  Thanks to the antidepressants I take, I feel mostly good but tired most of the time. I can walk, talk, type, eat.  Nothing on the left side works properly.  It will be 3 years in October and my doctors say, this is as good as it is going to get.  I can live with this. I push myself to make sure this stroke doesn't get the best of me.  I am happy to be alive!

Avatar universal
My father also had a "pons" brain stem stroke on 29th Sept 2012. He had a tracheostomy for 1 month. Now a PEG feeding tube is inserted in his stomach for giving him liquid diet. Can swallow only 2 spoons water on his own. Full paralysis is there except for head/neck movement.

Does Vital Stim really work? Is it available in India? Please share your progress thus far with us. Would really help a lotttt.
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