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Goals of Swallowing Rehabilitation

There are several goals in swallowing rehabilitation. The primary goals are to prevent malnutrition and dehydration and reduce the risk of aspiration. Re-establishment of safe and efficient oral intake, prevention of dysphagia prior to medical treatment, and patient education regarding the specifics of their disorder are also important goals of intervention. Pretreatment counseling is beneficial in addressing the possibility that dysphagia may develop during or after the completion of the planned treatment. Poorly prepared patients may become frustrated when attempting to feed and thus may fail to ingest enough to maintain adequate nutrition and hydration.[43] Individuals can be given strategies, recommendations, or exercises prophylactically to reduce the chances of developing a problem. Researchers are currently investigating the benefits of preradiation exercise. Treatment for postsurgical cases usually begins once the surgeon indicates the patient has healed sufficiently, usually 5 to 10 days postsurgery. Patients on chemoradiation protocols may receive swallowing therapy during treatment, but often the development of mucositis results in oral pain and prohibits exercise or significant oral intake until after it is resolved. Swallowing therapy can be initiated years after cancer treatment, since the effects of chemoradiation can occur long after treatment is completed.