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2004 Press Releases
Morton Plant Hospital Offers New Hope for People with Swallowing Disorders
01/06/2005

CLEARWATER, Fla., (December 7, 2004) -Patients suffering from swallowing disorders now have a new treatment option that can dramatically improve their ability to eat and drink more normally. Morton Plant Hospital's Barrett Center for Rehabilitation is using an electrotherapy process that sends a low voltage charge through the neck.

"The therapy creates a vibration through the neck which causes the muscles to contract," stated Jill Londrigan, Speech Language Pathologist, Morton Plant Hospital. "With this treatment, patients can learn to swallow all over again and can help greatly improve their overall health."

An estimated 15 million people in the U.S. have difficulty swallowing, or dysphagia. Most of the patients treated at Morton Plant Hospital have experienced such neuromuscular conditions as stroke, throat cancer and Parkinson's disease. Nearly 60,000 people die each year from complications associated with swallowing disorders and more than a million new cases of dysphagia occur annually.

In the past, traditional methods to treat dysphagia include conventional speech therapy, patient education, facial exercises, and diet modification such as pureeing food to make it pass more easily down the throat. VitalStim therapy is performed three to four times a week and lasts about an hour. The average stroke survivor will need approximately 12 to 16 treatments.

Established in 1916, Morton Plant Hospital is a 687-bed facility dedicated to improving the health of all it serves through community-owned health services that set the standard for high quality, compassionate care. Earlier this year, Morton Plant was named a 100 Top Hospital in the "Solucient 100 Top Hospitals: National Benchmarks for Success" study for the fourth year for overall quality of care. Morton Plant's stroke care has received the highest level of recognition -- the Gold Seal of ApprovalTM for Primary Stroke Care from the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO). Morton Plant Hospital is located at 300 Pinellas Street, Clearwater, Fla., 727-462-7000.

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Contact: Beth Hardy (727) 298-6199 Phone, Amy Morrow (727) 461-8538 (727) 468-7586 Pager