Document Type

Guide (how-to document)


University of Montana Rural Institute

Publication Date



Community Health and Preventive Medicine | Public Health


Research indicates that 74% of all nursing home patients experience eating difficulties sometime during their stay (Trupe, Siebens, & Siebens, 1984). Additionally, 59% of patients suffering from stroke experience some degree of dysphagia and aspiration difficulties (Echelard, Thoppil, & Melvin 1984). A significant number of the high risk dysphagia patients described above suffer from life threatening aspiration pneumonia. Consequently the management of swallowing disorders (Dysphagia) is of critical concern to hospital and nursing home personnel. Patients specficially at risk for dysphagia, according to recent studies, include those with head injury, stroke (CVA), and cerebral palsy. Also, patients experiencing cancer of the swallowing structures, diseases or disorders of the cranial nerves, and other neurological dysfuctions have been identified to be at increased risk. In rural areas, however, sophisticated diagnostic equipment that would facilitate dysphagia diagnosis is often unavailable. In addition, rural hospital and nursing home personnel (occupational therapists, physical therapists, speech pathologists and registered nurses) are often in a position to identify early signs of dysphagia but may not be trained in dysphagia identification or treatment. Consequently, it is imperative for these care providers to learn the screening skills necessary to identify dysphagia. When patients are identified as having, or being at an increased risk for, swallowing disorders are are treated accordingly, additional problems resulting from undiagnosed dysphagia may be prevented.


health and wellness, health promotion, dysphagia, swallowing disorders, nursing home, rural, disability


© 1990 RTC:Rural.

Granting Agency

National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research


Grateful thanks are offered to the following professionals for their guidance in designing and implementing this workshop and training manual: Susan Bertrand, M.D., Physiatrist, Community Rehabilitation Center; Kathy Conroy, MCSD/CCC-SLP, Community Rehabilitation Center; Gilbert Foss, Ph.D., Training Director, RTC: Rural, University of Montana; Judy Fredenberg, Editor, RTC: Rural, University of Montana; Tom Hamburgen, Research Assistant, RTC: Rural, University of Montana; Kathleen O. Jackson, Ph.D., Research Associate, Community Medical Center; Joanne Kidder, RD, Dietitian, Community Medical Center; Charles M. Page, Ph.D., Vice President, Missoula Community Hospital, Director, Rehabilitation Services; Linda Quinlan, Graphic Artist, RTC: Rural, University of Montana; Dean Ross, M.D., Medical Director, Community Rehabilitation Center; Tom Seekins, Ph.D. Research Director, RTC: Rural, University of Montana.

Project Number