Speech and language therapists will join forces with other health professionals and the public across the world to raise awareness of people’s eating, drinking and swallowing difficulties (dysphagia) on 13 March 2019.
Two of the world’s most prominent professional bodies for speech and language therapy – the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists and Speech Pathology Australia, are leading the Swallowing Awareness Day campaign to highlight how speech and language therapists assess and support people throughout their lives to eat, drink and swallow safely.
Anyone at any stage of their lives from infants, children and adults, can be affected by dysphagia – the medical term for swallowing difficulties.
“Without the right support in place, the consequences for someone who has dysphagia can be catastrophic,” says Kamini Gadhok MBE, Chief Executive of the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists.
“Risks to health can include pneumonia, dehydration, malnutrition, weight loss and choking. So, we all need to work together to improve outcomes for individuals who have dysphagia by creating safer swallowing environments for them.”
Those affected by dysphagia includes:
– 95% of people with Motor Neurone Disease;
– 68% of people with dementia in care homes;
– 65% of people who have had a stroke;
– 50% of people with Parkinson’s Disease;
– 33% of people with multiple sclerosis.
“Like breathing, swallowing is essential to everyday life,” added Gaenor Dixon, National President of Speech Pathology Australia.
“Swallowing problems can occur at any stage of life. However, the knowledge of dysphagia and its implications remain largely unknown for most people.
“Swallowing Awareness Day 2019 is an opportunity to bring attention to swallowing disorders and to connect people with speech pathologists, the professionals who can help.”
Last year’s Swallowing Awareness Day campaign reached around 4.5 million people on social media in over 30 nations around the world, including Uganda, Australia, Canada and the US. It is hoped that even more people will get involved with the campaign this year to create a safer, more inclusive environment for people living with eating, drinking and swallowing difficulties.
Other organisations supporting Swallowing Awareness Day 2019 include Federazione Logopedisti Italiani (Italy), the Irish Association of Speech and Language Therapists, and a multitude of NHS Trusts and universities.