LEARN ABOUT VITALSTIM THERAPY
• What is Dysphagia?
• How does VitalStim Therapy work?
• Product Information
• Clinical Evidence
• Patient FAQs
WHAT IS DYSPHAGIA?
Dysphagia is defined as difficulty with swallowing. It can occur as a result of a stroke or other neurological disease, normal aging or after a long period of inactivity. An estimated >16 million US, 30 million European and 10 million Japanese elderly citizens suffer from dysphagia4. People who don’t eat or drink enough are more likely to become ill or experience longer recovery times. In addition, patients with dysphagia carry a large psychological burden; many develop depression and withdraw from society because sharing of food and drink is such a big part of daily life. The management of this condition consists mainly of diet modification to decrease choking episodes; a feeding tube may be inserted in the stomach. In the last few years, new treatment options have become available – especially the use of electrical stimulation. This exciting treatment tool, VitalStim® Therapy, is showing excellent outcomes for many patients. It is simple for trained clinicians to administer and is pain free for the patient.
INTRODUCTION TO DYSPHAGIA
HOW DOES VITALSTIM THERAPY WORK?
VitalStim Plus neuromuscular electrical stimulation helps recruit and re-educate muscles in the process of swallowing.
The VitalStim® Therapy System is an adjunctive modality to traditional exercise that unites the power of electrical stimulation with the benefits of swallowing exercises. Combining VitalStim and traditional therapy allows clinicians to accelerate strengthening, restore function, and help the brain remap the swallow. Research supports the combination of these therapies to improve treatment outcomes.
Under the guidance of a clinician, patients partner in an interactive therapy that aids muscle strengthening to rehabilitate swallowing. sEMG biofeedback helps to increase effort and duration of swallowing attempts and to improve coordination. It also offers the potential for objective evaluation of swallowing function and patterns.5
The VitalStim waveform is delivered in Co-Contraction Mode. Up to four separate channels deliver stimulation concurrently and pause at the same time.
Customize your treatment protocol by adjusting the parameters of your choice, such as Phase Duration, Frequency, and Work and Rest Time.
VMS treatment offers even more flexibility by allowing you to sequence the stimulation in the various channels to more closely match the natural swallowing sequence.
Electrical signals in the muscle are measured and displayed on a screen and are amplified into sounds that the patient can hear. This feedback increases patient effort and participation, and provides the data and documentation required to measure patient outcomes and quantify progress.
sEMG + Triggered Stim
The patient initiates the swallowing exercise with the assistance of sEMG biofeedback. When the set threshold is reached, VitalStim Plus will switch to stimulation mode to increase the effort and exercise load.
The VitalStim® Therapy System is an adjunctive modality to traditional exercise that unites the power of electrical stimulation with the benefits of swallowing exercises. Combining VitalStim and traditional therapy allows clinicians to accelerate strengthening, restore function, and help the brain remap the swallow.
The following research supports the combination of these therapies to improve treatment outcomes:
1. Clavé P, Shaker R. Dysphagia: current reality and scope of the problem. Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2015 May
2. Liang et al. Evaluating the Efficacy of VitalStim Electrical Stimulation Combined with Swallowing Function Training for Treating Dysphagia following an Acute Stroke. 2021 October
3. Isabel Diéguez-Pérez et al. Effectiveness of Different Application Parameters of Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation for the Treatment of Dysphagia after a Stroke: A Systematic Review. 2020 August
VITALSTIM THERAPY TRAINING
Chattanooga VitalStim Plus is available exclusivly through Enovis and Chattanooga partners.
Enovis offers an instructional video course which aims to make you familiar with the VitalStim Plus device and to help you understand and use the device functions that are relevant for you.
Please note it is important that you complete the online course "Electrical Stimulation and sEMG Biofeedback in the Treatment of Dysphagia" before applying VitalStim treatment in your clinical practice.
Course modules include:
- Introduction to the Vitalstim Plus device
- Using VitalStim mode
- Using VMS mode
- Using more than 2 channels and remote control
- Using the "Delay" feature
- Electrode contact issues & tips
What is VitalStim Therapy?
VitalStim Therapy is designed to help swallowing through the use of Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation (NMES). Electrical stimulation is used to aid muscle strengthening to rehabilitate the swallow. The sensory stimulation that is provided also helps muscle recruitment and swallowing function.
Is VitalStim therapy right for me?
VitalStim® Therapy is indicated for, but not limited to the following conditions:
• Various other neuromuscular disease processes (e.g., Parkinson’s, ALS, etc.)
• Head and neck cancer (post radiation) and/or surgery
• Deconditioning as a result of age or disease
Your therapist can assist to provide the best advice to prevent complications and obtain the best outcomes from your treatment.
How long does a therapy session last?
A VitalStim Therapy program is typically administered 3 to 5 days per week for 30-60 minutes. Patients can expect their treatment program to last a few weeks, sometimes longer.
What is involved in the treatment?
A typical treatment session begins with the dysphagia therapist cleansing the skin with a special alcohol swab. Sometimes, moist heat and massage will be applied to improve the effects of the treatment. The dysphagia therapist will then attach the electrodes to the neck. Once turned on, the VitalStim device provides stimulation to the target muscles. At this time, your therapist will coach you through active swallowing exercises that include: “Swallow hard, swallow fast” and “swallow in a single contraction”. These swallows will include food and liquids that are deemed appropriate by your dysphagia therapist.