VitalStim® Therapy is the first proven treatment for dysphagia. It's the only dysphagia therapy backed by compelling clinical data and cleared by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

How Does It Work?

VitalStim Therapy uses clinical electrical stimulation to train the muscles used in swallowing. Our trained specialists administer VitalStim while helping patients "re-educate" their muscles through rehabilitation therapy.

  1. Specially designed electrodes deliver a small, painless electric current.
  2. The current stimulates motor nerves in the throat.
  3. The muscles responsible for swallowing contract.
  4. The quality of the swallowing function improves.
  5. With repeated therapy, muscles are re-educated.
VitalStim Therapy is remarkably successful in real-world use. It offers better and faster results than any traditional therapy.

Shown Safe by the FDA

VitalStim® Therapy is a neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) technology. NMES is used routinely to help restore muscle function. However, traditional NMES can't be used on the anterior neck. Such use is contraindicated, because stimulating the laryngeal afferents could trigger laryngospasm, and placing electrodes too close to the carotid artery could cause sinus bradycardia.

But VitalStim® Therapy is not a traditional treatment. The FDA has concluded that VitalStim Therapy is safe and effective for use on the swallowing muscles. The only adverse effects reported are a slight, occasional redness of the skin.

Who Can Get VitalStim?

VitalStim Therapy must be prescribed by a physician. It can be administered only under the direction of certified health care professionals with at least three years of experience treating dysphagia.

Contraindications for VitalStim Therapy are specific to patients suffering from dysphagia. Caution should be used with patients who have cardiac demand pacemakers. Its use is contraindicated with patients who are severely demented and exhibit non-stop verbalization. Constant verbalization could result in aspiration during trials of oral intake. VitalStim Therapy is also contraindicated in patients with significant reflux due to use of a feeding tube. Such patients are prone to repeated cases of aspiration pneumonia, and the VitalStim Therapy device has not been studied in this population. Use of the VitalStim Therapy device is contraindicated in patients with dysphagia due to drug toxicity. Patients suffering from drug toxicity could aspirate during trials of oral intake.

To learn more about VitalStim, talk to your doctor or contact Judy Kissel, HealthSouth Speech Therapist, at 812/476-9983.