Dysphagia Practice in 2035: Beyond Fluorography, Thickener, and Electrical Stimulation

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Abstract

Dysphagia evaluation and management has rapidly become the primary practice area of medical speech pathologists since its adoption in our field less than three decades ago. As a specialty, swallowing and swallowing disorders comprise the largest represented discipline with 10,059 specialty interest group members within the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association and 298 board-certified specialists in the American Speech Hearing Association. There are national and international organizations, such as the Dysphagia Research Society and its interdisciplinary journal Dysphagia, that provide continuing education for clinicians and a platform for dysphagia researchers. Despite this rapid growth, herein we identify some significant needs for improving the science and practice of dysphagia clinical care, including a deeper understanding of physiology and neurophysiology, standardization of evaluation, consensus on core sets of dysphagia parameters for clinical and research reporting, personalized algorithms for implementation of evidenced-based practice, metrics for therapy efficacy, and increased buy-in and funding from agencies. The goals of this article are to summarize the status quo of dysphagia research, evaluation, and treatment as well as to make predictions about the future. Medical trends that we speculate will influence dysphagia research and care in the future include, among others, imaging advances, personalized medicine, regenerative medicine, and telehealth.

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