Swallowing is a basic human need for:
(a) adequate nutrition and hydration and,
(b) has important social implications.
The act of swallowing depends on functioning and accurate timing of at least 26 muscles and 6 cranial nerves.
We swallow approximately 600 times per day (including saliva swallows). Swallowing can become impaired (dysphagia) through a variety of ways (neurological insult, progressive neurological disorder, mechanical injury, surgical necessity, genetic/idiopathic syndromes to name a few).
The speech pathologist is involved in the assessment, treatment and management of individuals with dysphagia because of our in depth knowledge of the neuroanatomy of the head and neck region. Speech pathologists are also integral to the counselling and pre and post operative speech and swallowing management of the patient who undergo treatment for head and neck cancer.