DMS Safe Life Clinic
What is the Safe Life Clinic?
The Safe Life Clinic was born out of the requests from our customers to provide out-patient support for dysphagia issues when they returned to home. With the changes in healthcare over the past several years, we are seeing patients return to home much quicker and with less rehabilitation opportunities than at any time in our past. Dysphagia Management Systems anticipated this need and began researching this unique population and what their needs were going to be. Following the development of unique evaluation tools that assessed the entire 5 Systems of Dysphagia ( muscular, cognitive, neurological, respiratory and gastrointestinal) we found that this population had very specific needs. The Safe Life Clinic addresses those needs.
What is the basis of the Safe Life Clinic?
The Safe Life Clinic is founded on two important aspects.
• The DMS BE SAFE program is focused on evaluating the entire patient. What this means is that dysphagia is a complex issue that encompasses the five systems that are needed to swallow safely and to keep the food from coming back up in the pharynx. This includes clinical evaluation by our specially trained Speech-Language Pathologists, as well as instrumentation examinations utilizing the fiberoptic endoscopic evaluation of swallowing or FEES. Focusing on the entire eating and drinking experience, including a special focus on reflux, we determine what the patient’s risks are, and identify ways in which the patient can become safer by changing certain aspects of their experience.
• The DMS STAY SAFE program incorporates therapeutic techniques, instruction, caregiver education, and physician referral in order to ascertain how to keep from having additional episodes or issues while healing. Diagnosing the issue is but half of the battle to live a healthier and safer life. The DMS STAY SAFE program is intended to gently move the patient toward that goal.
How long does this Safe Life Program take to complete?
Diagnosis and treatment takes 7-10 visits to the Safe Life Clinic on average. The first 3-4 visits and the last visit are diagnostic, including the clinical evaluations and instrumentations necessary to accurately identify the issues. The therapy, instruction and education follow during the remaining visits. As each patient is unique, each therapy regimen is unique. Over the course of the years of research and development trials, this is the average. Some patient require less, and some require more depending on severity. The patient should plan for 45-60 minutes for each diagnostic or therapeutic session.
How would I begin to know if I am having issues caused by dysphagia?
Dysphagia is a multi-faceted diagnosis. Issues with swallowing can affect any of the 5 Systems of Dysphagia. Some examples are as follows:
• The patient whose respiratory system of dysphagia is affected can exhibit coughs, wheezes, increased asthma, pneumonia, bronchitis, lethargy, throat clearing, wet-gurggly speech, and reflux symptoms.
• The patient whose muscular system of dysphagia is affected can exhibit difficulty chewing, a weak swallow, a feeling of food stuck in the throat or the mouth, fatigue during eating, lethargy overall, and an appetite that is diminished.
• The patient whose neurological system of dysphagia is affected can exhibit difficulty chewing due to weakness on one or both sides, diminished feeling in the mouth or throat, dryness in the mouth or throat, weakness on one side of the face or tongue, bilateral weakness, feeling of food stuck in the throat or mouth, diminished taste of food or liquid, and diminished feeling of hot or cold on one or both sides of the throat or mouth.
• The patient whose cognitive system of dysphagia is affected can exhibit confusion, lack of specificity in performing tasks, difficulty managing the spoonful of food as it passes through the mouth and throat, difficulty with making safe choices, increased issues with problem solving, taking medications as prescribed, and keeping on schedule for meals and snacks.
• The patient whose gastrointestinal system of dysphagia is affected can exhibit reflux issues as the food and liquid come back up into the throat. This can result in aspiration into the airway, increased coughs and wheezes, damage to the tissues of the pharynx and larynx, and a myriad of complications caused by the acid making its way into the throat.
What are some diagnoses that might bring me to the Safe Life Clinic?
Anyone can be suffering from the effects of dysphagia complications, however some of the more common diagnoses that we see in the clinic are:
• Stroke, CVA, TIA
• Parkinson’s Disease
• Multiple Sclerosis, ALS, Huntington’s Chorea
• Hip Fracture, Knee Replacement, Broken Limb requiring surgery to repair
• Closed Head Injury, Skull Fracture, Post Brain Surgery
• Cancer patients undergoing or post chemotherapy or radiation
• Alzheimer’s, Dementia, or patient’s suffering from increased confusion
• Head and neck cancer patients who have had reconstructive surgery or tumor removal
• Lung Cancer, COPD, CHF, or other respiratory diagnoses
• GERD, reflux, hiatal hernia, or other GI diagnosis
• Tongue thrust, tongue cancer, or complicated post-mouth or tonsil surgery.
How much is this going to cost and will my insurance cover this?
The Safe Life Clinic utilized Speech Pathologists to provide their expert services. Call your insurance company in order to see if you have coverage on your policy for Speech Therapy. There is nothing that we do that is outside of the Scope of Practice for a Speech Pathologist. We accept Medicare assignment and United Healthcare Programs and bill those insurances directly for you. Call our clinic in order to find out if your insurance program can be billed directly. If not, we will prepare a form for you to submit to your insurance company and will provide all of the documents that you need to be reimbursed appropriately, depending on your coverage. The cost of service is determined by the diagnosis and the amount of follow-up treatment. These will be discussed with you during your free consultation to our clinic, whether by face-time or in person. We purposely keep our costs down and are known to be much cheaper than similar services elsewhere. We can do this as we are specialists in Dysphagia nationally, and are committed to providing the best possible care to those in need.