Dysphagia and Aphasia are sound alike medical terms and the symptoms sometimes occur in the same patient, particularly following a stroke, but while the meanings are quite different, the impact on quality of life is equally devastating for some people.

Dysphagia, refers to a swallowing problem and it can result from an acute illness, such as a stroke, but can also be the result of head and neck cancer treatment, or associated with a chronic neurodegenerative disease such as ALS or Parkinson’s. Estimates are that one in 25 adults in the United States (and this includes approximately 80% of people with Parkinson’s disease) experience a swallowing problem. Swallowing difficulties can produce symptoms which include: coughing when eating and drinking, a sensation of food getting “stuck,” or difficulty swallowing pills.

Reporting symptoms to your physician and early referral to a speech-language pathologist, experienced in evaluating and treating dysphagia, can help  identify  the cause of your swallowing difficulty and guide treatment options.

Parkinson’s disease and Swallowing

Join me on Tuesday, June 25, 2019 from 7-8:30pm EDT, when I present a webinar discussing swallowing problems associated with Parkinson’s disease. The webinar is being hosted by the National Foundation of Swallowing Disorders (NFOSD) the only organization of its kind, bringing together patients and medical professionals interested in learning more about dysphagia. NFOSD’s mission is to provide patient hope and improve the quality of life for those suffering from all types of swallowing disorders.

To register or learn more, visit: https://swallowingdisorderfoundation.com/

Regardless the cause of aphasia or dysphagia, the inability to communicate and the inability to swallow food or liquid safely can lead to depression and social isolation for the person affected and also impact relationships and family dynamics


Aphasia, is a communication disorder resulting from injury to the speech and language centers in the brain commonly caused by a stroke, tumor, or traumatic brain injury. Individuals with aphasia can often look fine but their ability to speak or understand language may be significantly impaired.   

Another type of aphasia, Primary Progressive Aphasia (PPA), is a neurodegenerative disease frequently associated with Alzheimer’s and/or fronto-temporal dementia. Symptoms of PPA often begin somewhat insidiously with patients reporting difficulty finding words, and eventually may progresses to a near total loss of speech and language.

According to the National Aphasia Association, 2 million people in the United States have aphasia, but 84.5% of Americans state that they’ve never heard the term, and so, every June, NAA galvanizes its resources to educate the public about ways of improving communication experiences for people living with aphasia. This year, NAA wants us all to #talkaboutaphasia, but first, take their quiz, and see how much you know:   https://www.aphasia.org/stories/how-much-do-you-know-about-aphasia-communication/

Do You Have Difficulty Swallowing?

Here at Voice Aerobics, we are lucky to work closely with Swallowing Diagnostics, Inc., a mobile company, performing modified barium swallow (MBS) studies for over 15 years thoughout South Florida. Owner, Debra Tarakofsky, is a speech-language pathologist, who has dedicated her practice to improving the quality of services to patients with dysphagia, regardless of where they reside, and as an adjunct instructor with Nova University, she provides education to students and other speech-language pathologists. Following completion of an MBS study, patients and I review the video in my office which helps patients understand the rationale for treatment recommendations. Schedule an appointment by visiting my private practice page:  https://voiceaerobicsdvd.com/voice-aerobics-private-practice/



My Mission: To enlist individuals in their treatment, and help them express their personality & spirit through voice. To educate and empower.
Mary Spremulli, MA, CCC-SLP


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