Adult Services

What are the typical swallowing assessment procedures?

Assessment of swallowing is done by a team of professionals including a speech-language pathologist (S-LP), dietitian and sometimes other health care professionals (e.g., doctors, nurse, occupational therapist, physiotherapist). Testing usually includes: review of the person’s health and swallowing history, watching how the muscles that are used for chewing and swallowing work (e.g., tongue and lip muscles) and watching the person eating different types of foods and liquids. Sometimes a special X-ray is done to see how well the person chews and swallows and whether or not the food moves from the mouth to the stomach safely.

For communities where there is no dysphagia team, S-LPs give general information about safe eating and drinking. For communities where there is a dysphagia team, people can be seen for inpatient swallowing assessments and therapy if needed. Some, but not all, communities also do Modified Barium Swallow (X-ray) studies.

Who can be referred?

All inpatients referred for swallow assessments to NSHSC S-LP services must have a physician's referral.

Who can refer?

Referrals for dysphagia testing must be made by a doctor.

Who should be contacted with the referral?

The physician should make the referral to the dysphagia team (if available) at the patient’s hospital.