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Dysphagia Program

The Dysphagia Program at the Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital Outpatient Therapy Center specializes in evaluating, and improving swallowing function in adult, and pediatric patients. Our goal is to help our patients tolerate the least restrictive diet as possible.

Dysphagia Program Services

A comprehensive evaluation, and assessment process allows us to provide individualized therapy for each patient.

Our assessment includes a clinical evaluation, relevant history, and recommendations.

Videofluoroscopic Swallow Study
During the study, the patient is given food mixed with barium, a radio-opaque substance. As the patient chews, moves the food inside the mouth, and swallows, the radiologist and therapist are able to observe on a screen similar to a TV. X-rays are taken and a video recording is made for later review.

Therapy is provided by an occupational therapist (OT), a speech therapist, or both. Therapy can focus on some or all of these areas:

  • Compensatory techniques
  • Optimal positioning to increase safety
  • Oral motor strengthening and coordination
  • Laryngeal pharyngeal strengthening and coordination exercises
  • Diet modifications to increase safety

Patient and family education: We consider family involvement to be a key component of our program. We educate both the patient and his or her family on any potential safety concerns. We also provide training and support to ensure that the patient’s treatment is able to continue at home and in other settings.

Pediatric Feeding Program

Mary Free Bed offers a separate outpatient program for children, newborn and up, with dysphagia. The pediatric Feeding Program treats dysphagia as well as oral aversion, oral defensiveness, and behavioral issues related to feeding.

Who Uses Dysphagia Program Services

Patients with any of the following may have issues with swallowing or feeding:

  • Cerebral palsy
  • Spina bifida
  • Brain injury
  • Cardiac problems
  • Reflux
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Apraxia
  • Oral weakness
  • Neurological conditions
  • Tube feedings
  • Cancer
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Dementia/Alzheimer’s Disease

Contact the Dysphagia Program

For more information or to make a referral, please contact the Dysphagia Program at:

616.242.0366 or 800.668.6001



350 Lafayette SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49503-4651 | Map

Outpatient Referral Form

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