Candidacy for VitalStim Therapy®


Candidacy for VitalStim® Therapy

What is VitalStim® Therapy?

FDA cleared method of rehabilitating swallowing musculature using neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) with concurrent exercise therapy. The therapy is applied to patients suffering from dysphagia (swallowing dysfunction) with signs and symptoms of oropharyngeal muscle weakness.

What is NMES?

Small electrical pulses are delivered to impaired muscle groups through surface electrodes applied over the neck. The pulses induce muscle contractions leading to increased strength and speed of contraction and improved endurance.

Indications for VitalStim® Therapy

Dysphagic patients with signs and symptoms of oropharyngeal neuromuscular impairment are indicated for receiving VitalStim® Therapy. Patients usually present with signs of aspiration, signs of muscle weakness and difficulty managing a normal diet.

Typical patient categories include:


Deconditioning as a result of age or comorbidity

Head and neck cancer post radiation and/or surgery

Various other neuromuscular disease processes (e.g., Parkinson’s ALS, etc.)

A patient is indicated for dysphagia therapy when they show signs of, or are at risk for


and/or when they have

difficulty managing their diet

. One or more of the following signs and symptoms will be evident:

Coughing/clearing of throat after swallow

Abnormal volitional cough

Decreased voice quality (wet, hoarse, weak)

Difficulty completing a meal

Feeling of food being stuck in the throat

Requires diet to be modified (e.g., thickening, pureed food, soft solids)

Recurring chest infections

Requires multiple swallows or special maneuvers to clear throat

Difficulty initiating a swallow

Spillage of food/liquid from lips and/or drooling

Contraindications for receiving VitalStim® Therapy

Patients with active neoplasm or infection in the neck should receive prior clearance by the treating physician before initiating VitalStim® Therapy.

Patients with implanted devices such as pacemakers may receive VitalStim® Therapy.