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VitalStim Therapy Services

VitalStim Therapy is available as part of the RESTORE Therapy program at multiple Heritage Health locations. VitalStim Therapy is a therapeutic intervention for the management of dysphagia and difficulty swallowing. VitalStim Therapy uses small electrical currents to stimulate the muscles responsible for swallowing.

At the same time, trained specialists help patients "re-educate" their muscles through rehabilitation therapy. VitalStim Therapy uses electrical stimulation for activation of muscles. Research shows that the combination of electrical stimulation and traditional treatment techniques is very effective at restoring swallowing function.

What is dysphagia?

Dysphagia is defined as difficulty swallowing. Symptoms of dysphagia can include coughing while swallowing or after swallowing, choking on food or liquid, the sensation of food getting stuck in the throat, pain during swallowing, shortness of breath during feeding and onset of pneumonia.

How does vitalstim therapy work?

A small, carefully calibrated current is delivered to the motor nerves of the patient's throat through specially designed electrodes causing the muscles responsible for swallowing to contract. At the same time, a dysphagia specialist guides the patient through active swallowing therapy to re-educate normal swallow function.

How long is a treatment session?

Treatment sessions usually last an hour.

How many sessions of VitalStim treatment before my swallowing improves?

This depends a lot on the underlying medical problem causing the dysphagia. In many patients, improvement in the swallowing function starts almost immediately. Patients often see good results in 6 to 20 treatment sessions. Your therapist can give you more information about how long your therapy with VitalStim might take.

Does this work with all forms of dysphagia?

One of the most common forms of dysphagia is oropharyngeal dysphagia which affects stroke survivors, patients with progressive neuromuscular disorders, head and neck cancer survivors and the elderly.

How effective is VitalStim Therapy?

Multiple studies indicate that VitalStim Therapy is safe and effective and that the addition of electrotherapy to dysphagia therapy significantly enhances outcomes.

Is VitalStim Therapy safe & painless?

Yes. VitalStim Therapy is the only technology cleared by the FDA for restoring the swallowing function to patients with oropharyngeal dysphagia. VitalStim Therapy is a non-invasive, painless treatment.

Does insurance cover it?

Medicare recognizes and provides reimbursement for the treatment of swallowing dysfunction provided the treatment is medically necessary and delivered by a qualified professional.

What are the side effects of VitalStim Treatment?

The only problematic issue found during the study was the occasional occurrence of skin irritation as a result of the adhesive used to secure the stimulation electrode to the anterior portion of the neck.

Who cannot receive VitalStim Therapy?

VitalStim Therapy should not be used directly over an active neoplasm or infection. It should be used with caution in patients with seizure disorders and patients with implanted electronics (e.g., pacemakers, implantable defibrillators, deep brain stimulators).

Some patients may not respond well to VitalStim Therapy. This may include patients with significant lower motor neuron damage and patients with severely impaired cognition. Caution should be
used with patients who have cardiac demand pacemakers.

Learn more about RESTORE Therapy and the VitalStim Therapy Services available at a Heritage Health or other skilled nursing facility near you by visiting our website:

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Wednesday, August 21, 2019

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Heritage Operations Group is proud to provide the senior population in Illinois with rehabilitative therapy services, skilled nursing care, specialized Alzheimer’s and dementia care, assisted and supportive living, independent living and pharmacy services.


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