Camille began VitalStim Therapy in April 2005 at Children's Hospital Orange County and now continues her treatment at Pasadena Child Development Associates. When Camille began VitalStim, which is a form of e-stim, she had significant difficulty managing her oral secretions and could not swallow any food by mouth due to aspiration risk.
With the help of Camille's outstanding feeding therapist and e-stim, Camille is now able to swallow small amounts of pureed food safely. She continues to rely on her feeding tube for nutrition, but hopes to continue her swallowing progress with intensive therapy.
What is VitalStim?
VitalStim is a newly FDA approved therapy used in the management of swallowing disorders. It is a specialized form of neuromuscular electrical stimulation (e-stim) that strengthens the muscles of the throat used in swallowing.
E-stim is a technique in which a small electric current is passed across the skin to stimulate muscle groups responsible for swallowing. Electrodes are placed on the throat for one hour sessions two to three times per week. The outcome of e-stim is maximized when paired with an appropriate and focused functional therapy program.
Since it became available in 2003, more than 10,000 patients have been treated with this therapy. VitalStim Therapy's clearance in 2001 by the FDA was based on a long-term study of nearly 900 patients, both in-patient and out-patient. Preliminary data on this technique shows a positive outcome, but there is considerable debate about the original research study. Additional research projects are in progress and additional data should be available within the year.