VitalStim® Therapy, Developed Specifically To Treat Dysphagia, Has Dramatic Effect On 20-Year Old

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Unique electrical stimulation treatment retrains dormant or atrophied swallow muscles in cases of dysphagia (inability to swallow) affecting 15 million Americans.

VitalStim® Therapy, an Empi product, is an innovative electrical stimulation treatment, that retrains dormant swallow muscles in dysphagia, a swallowing difficulty affecting 15 million Americans.

For most of the one million Americans newly diagnosed every year, dysphagia is often a side effect of stroke, a neurological disease, cancer or other serious illness.

Alex Webb of Sandusky, Ohio, is 20 years old and has not eaten since birth. His nutrition has not consisted of fruits, vegetables and meats but instead has come from liquids passed through a feeding tube placed in his stomach at birth.

After recent dental work made it possible for Alex to close his mouth completely, Dr. Glenn Trippe of New Beginnings Pediatrics in Norwalk, Ohio, believed that despite his long history of not eating by mouth there was hope. That's when the pediatrician referred Alex to the Speech Therapy Department at Fisher-Titus Medical Center, also in Norwalk.

In October 2008, Alex began VitalStim Therapy. Within three months of treatment, therapy had produced a startling effect and for the first time in his life, Alex was able to swallow food through his mouth.

"It has been a long and difficult road for Alex," Dr. Trippe said. "He is a brave and courageous young man and has made magnificent progress in the past few months. VitalStim and the other therapies at Fisher-Titus have been very helpful to him and have really improved his quality of life."

While his diet is still in the soft food stage, Alex is progressing toward a long-awaited meal of steak and potatoes. His most requested condiment - Tabasco sauce!

"Alex's progress has been phenomenal," adds Laura Lloyd, FTMC Speech-Language Pathologist. "He has defied the odds. I am amazed by how much progress he has made in such a short amount of time."

According to Yorick Wijting, director of clinical research for VitalStim Therapy, "the medical device uses non-invasive electrical stimulation to help re-educate the throat muscles needed for swallowing. Applied externally, it delivers small electrical currents to the neck to stimulate inactive or atrophied swallowing muscles. To date, VitalStim has been administered with no reported adverse effects to over 100,000 patients by over 11,000 VitalStim-trained and certified therapists around the country."

Alex has taken some giants steps in just the past few months. He has a job, he shops, and he is overcoming his self-consciousness on his way to resuming a normal lifestyle.

VitalStim® Therapy is a patented therapy process and equipment system developed specifically to treat dysphagia. It is the only Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation (NMES) therapy and equipment system to have received clearance from the Food & Drug Administration for the treatment of dysphagia: muscle re-education by application of external stimulation to the muscles necessary for pharyngeal contraction. In addition to two patents and FDA clearance, VitalStim® Therapy is backed by comprehensive clinical data. VitalStim® Therapy is a product of Empi, a DJO company.

Contact: Lee Laino 212-879-1814
Johnna Young (FTMC) 419-663-1975, ext. 6630


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Johnna Young
Fisher-Titus Medical Center
419-663-1975 ext. 6630
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