Dysphagia Therapy for Swallowing Problems

Swallowing Problems

People can have swallowing problems for a number of reasons.  I generally see people for therapy who find themselves stuck on a restricted diet and want to improve their swallow function.

Before starting working together, I will always need to gather background information about your swallowing difficulty, including details of any previous assessments and investigations.  We may need to arrange a specialist assessment which would be carried out at hospital before we start therapy.

I use a variety of approaches in my work, all of which have involved additional training.  Finding the right approach to use with you will form our initial appointment.


I offer  evidence-based treatments that include but are not limited to:

  • NMES
  • MDTP

What is NMES?

Neuro Muscular Electrical Stimulation (NMES) is a treatment  for dysphagia (problems swallowing). It works by — providing electrical stimulation via electrodes to specific muscles involved with swallowing that are no longer functioning adequately.

We use a device called Vital Stim Plus.


The goal when using Vital Stim is to strengthen weak muscles and help in the recovery of motor control for swallowing.

—Muscle Stimulation has a positive training effect in terms of muscle strength, endurance and coordination. —The effects are maintained through ongoing voluntary exercise.

—Electrical Stimulation should FACILITATE the contraction STIMULATE the strengthening through exercises to RESTORE NORMAL FUNCTION

—NMES Needs to be used with the right clients. (It is not appropriate for everyone.)

Dysphagia Treatment

What to expect if you contact us about Vital Stim treatment.

Good assessment diagnosis and hypothesis driven management plan are at the centre of what we offer to ensure that we achieve optimum outcomes.

We will begin by getting detailed information from you, your family ,your medical team and any speech and language therapist working with you ( with your permission).

If appropriate we will arrange an assessment appointment. This will usually take place at our Therapy Centre in Kings Heath Birmingham.

We will carry out an assessment and if the nature of your dysphagia can be helped by NMES we will assess your ability to tolerate the equipment.

If appropriate we will formulate a treatment plan with you. This is likely to require an intense period of therapy for a few weeks and is a significant commitment.

Alongside the Vital Stim you will be given appropriate therapeutic exercises which you will carry out between sessions.

—All client data will be used anonymously as part of our ongoing research.

—Is Vital Stim New?

—VITAL STIM was developed and used within the USA in the 1990’s. It was granted FDA approval in 2001

—It is used around the world and has an extensive body of research.

NICE updated their guidance in 2018

they said

Evidence on transcutaneous neuromuscular electrical stimulation shows there are no concerns about the safety of this procedure. There is not much good evidence about how well this procedure works for adults with dysphagia after they have had a stroke. This procedure can be used but only when patients are having regular checks to see how well it is working or if it has caused problems. This is because of the concerns about its long-term effects.

For adults who have dysphagia that has not been caused by a stroke, this procedure can only be done as part of a research study. This is because there is not enough evidence to be sure how well it works.

We would encourage you to read the information



‘Following a stroke in December which left me with Dysphagia I contacted The Speech Therapy Practice and met with Jo for an initial consultation. I have now completed eight further sessions using both Vital Stim and McNeill Dysphagia therapy. The results to date have been amazing, I am now drinking and eating most foods reasonable comfortably. I firmly believe that without meeting both Jo and Judy I would still be on a pureed diet’.

Our son had swallowing problems after a brain injury. As a family we felt guilty eating in front of him. After having a vital stim course his swallowing dramatically improved, so much so he now enjoys eating with us at mealtimes

Hi Jo and Judi

Just wanted to say a huge thank you to you both for all that you’ve done for my dad. His treatment for his dysphagia with Vital Stim has been amazing for him. I can only praise your expertise , patience for the time you’ve given to him. The rewards have been beyond anything we could have expected. For my dad to be able to get back his love of food and sit with us all and have a meal is truly wonderful. Simple pleasures mean so much to family life and to my dad who’s come so far with the nurture and expertise of you both.  

Many thanks Brian , Josie , Belinda Mark and all the family

McNeill Dysphagia Therapy Program

The McNeill Dysphagia Therapy Program is a systematic, exercise based therapy framework for the treatment of dysphagia in adults. Jo is a certified clinician and is happy to offer this therapy to appropriate clients.

MDTP is based on principles of exercise physiology and rehabilitation including frequency, intensity, speed and coordination and varying planes of movement.

Please call for a discussion of how this therapy may benefit you or follow the link to read more about it.

McNeill Dysphagia Therapy Program – 10 years of research experience with an exercise based dysphagia rehabilitation approach