Swallowing Awareness Day – 14 March

Today’s the day to find out more about dysphagia (swallowing difficulties) – and how speech and language therapy can support with eating and drinking.

Dysphagia affects 25% of people with traumatic brain injury and 65% of people who have had a stroke, according to the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists’s Giving Voice campaign. Giving Voice’s website is full of information, with Swallowing Awareness Day materials including factsheets and posters on infant dysphagia. Across the country, today will be marked with various activities to spread awareness and learn more. This year’s suggestions include running ‘Great British Blend Offs’ and creating mocktails. In 2017 UK astronaut Major Tim Peake helped raise awareness by answering the question whether you can eat and drink in space (you can - but best to avoid fizzy drinks!). For 2018 we’ve found out how therapists at the charity The Children’s Trust will mark today. Rachel Gwynn, Specialist Speech and Language Therapist (SLT), said: “Our role is in the assessment, differential diagnosis and management of dysphagia. “We want to raise awareness of the needs of the children and young people; what our role is as SLTs; and use the day as an opportunity to gain feedback about what we are doing currently.” The therapists are running two information stands, with activities, at The Children’s Trust’s national specialist centre. Rachel said: “Our stand is mostly for people supporting the children and young people but we welcome everyone based here to come and have a look. “We have some different textures/consistencies of food and drink for people to try as well as some challenges, such as ‘guess the consistency’. Explaining the role SLT’s play, the Giving Voice campaign says: “SLTs can assess and identify possible causes of eating and drinking difficulties. During feeding and mealtime observations they will be able to assess the nature of the difficulties.” Giving Voice continues: “They can support parents and carers in using strategies to help infants, children or young people to manage their mealtimes as safely as possible. “They may also suggest different feeding equipment, texture changes, positions or techniques to help make eating and drinking easier and safer.”
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