Swallowing Disorders – Causes and Therapy

As a specialist in post injury speech rehabilitation, Joanne Whiteoak has extensive experience in assessing and managing swallowing disorders. Stroke, head injury, neurosurgery, progressive neurological disease, such as Parkinson’s disease, and head and neck surgery are just a few of the medical conditions that can cause swallowing disorders. Joanne often works with patients who suffer from these conditions, and who subsequently have to deal with a swallowing disorder. Regardless of the cause, the effects can range from downright unpleasant to life-threatening.

A Myriad Of Symptoms

There seems to be as many symptoms as there are causes when it comes to swallowing disorders, including diminished ability to chew food, excessive coughing and throat clearing when attempting to swallow, requiring several swallows to clear food from the throat, a feeling of having food stuck in the throat or chest, and even recurring chest infections. Many of these symptoms present a very real danger to the individual, and specialist speech pathologists like Joanne realise the need for a comprehensive and conclusive treatment plan.

Image of a man holding onto his throat
Image from www.alliancenursingrehab.com

Therapeutic Options For Swallowing Disorders

Joanne’s training and clinical experience have given her the skills required to assess and manage swallowing disorders. She may suggest a relatively simple course of treatment, such as a change in diet. Other strategies might need to be put in place so that an individual can eat and drink safely, and without pain. If the cause of the swallowing disorder needs to be established or confirmed, some further testing may be required. The results of these tests will form the basis of future treatment, and pathologists like Joanne, using the latest techniques, are often at the forefront of such treatment plans.

A One-On-One Approach

Post injury speech rehabilitation is a large and complex field. The treatment of swallowing disorders is just one part of that field but, like everything to do with this particular type of rehabilitation, an individual approach is required. Joanne will be the first to tell you that no two patients are the same.
Swallowing disorders present themselves in so many different ways, and through so many different causes, that a broad approach will usually miss the mark. That’s why Joanne works hard to fully understand each individual’s unique circumstances, and to formulate a tailor-made treatment plan. It’s the only way to make swallowing the natural function we usually take for granted.


Joanne Whiteoak has a special interest in speech development and language difficulty. Book your child an appointment with a speech therapist at Box Hill Speech Pathology Clinic on (03) 9899 5494 or direct your child speech therapy questions to enquiries@speech-therapy.com.au.

3 responses to “Swallowing Disorders – Causes and Therapy

  1. Pingback: Gregory Smith
    1. Thank you! Please contact our clinic on 9899 5494 if you have any concerns about your swallowing or if you are worried about a family member’s ability to swallow food and drink safely.

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