Here are some of the most common tests and tools used by your speech-language pathologist (SLP).
Clinical swallow evaluation
Using this evaluation, your SLP determines how food and liquid move through the mouth and upper throat. This test will look for signs that food or liquid may be going into the airway instead of the stomach based on symptoms you may have. Your SLP will develop strategies to try to improve your swallow function. This evaluation is completed on both adults and children.
Modified barium swallow (MBS)
You will meet your SLP, radiologist and radiology technician during this test. The MBS is a moving x-ray that evaluates how different textures of food and liquid move through the mouth and upper part of the throat during swallowing. It will determine if various textures of food get stuck or go down the wrong pipe into the airway. Your SLP will develop strategies to try to improve your swallow function.
Children can also have a MBS. You and your child may put on vests or covers made of lead to protect you from X-rays. You may feed your baby from a bottle if that is how he/she eats. Barium is not dangerous for babies or young children. You may see it in the baby’s diaper for a few days after the study. You should not have this test done if you think you may be pregnant. It is not safe to have X-rays while pregnant.
Combined barium swallow
This test includes everything conducted in the modified barium swallow, but also includes a regular barium swallow to assess how liquids move through the lower throat or esophagus.
Fiberoptic endoscopic evaluation of swallowing (FEES)
Your SLP will conduct this evaluation. During this swallowing assessment, a small scope is inserted through the nose and into the upper throat. You will be asked to eat and drink various textures of food and liquid while the scope is inserted to determine if food or liquid gets stuck in the upper throat and if any of the food or liquid goes down the wrong pipe. Anesthesia is not used during this assessment as it can affect swallowing results.
Pediatric feeding and swallowing
Your SLP will perform this evaluation. Children can develop difficulty with feeding or swallowing at any age from infant to teenager. These challenges include bottle/breastfeeding, acceptance of new foods and textures, physical limitations, aspiration, food aversions, discoordination, sucking, biting and chewing difficulties.
Your SLP will perform this evaluation. A cognitive-linguistic evaluation involves testing your attention, memory, organization, sequencing, mental processing speed and your ability to create and execute plans to complete tasks. Additionally your ability to understand and produce language will be assessed. We use standardized tests in some cases.
Aphasia is a language disorder. During an aphasia evaluation, your SLP will assess your ability to understand and generate speech and language. We use standardized tests which assess both verbal and written language.
Dysarthria is a motor speech disorder that affects your ability to produce clear, intelligible speech. During this evaluation, your SLP will assess your tongue, lip and palatal movement both during non-speech tasks as well as during speech.
Voice disorders may be related to improper use of vocal cords, neurologic conditions, or growths on the vocal cords. Your SLP will perform this evaluation. Voice evaluations often require input from an otolaryngologist (ear, nose and throat doctor) as well. A voice evaluation includes assessments in the area of loudness, pitch, quality (hoarseness or harshness), and breathing.
Vocal cord dysfunction (VCD)
VCD is a condition when vocal cords close when breathing in to block airflow. Various triggers can result in VCD. During this assessment, your SLP will complete a thorough history and may ask you to perform tasks that reproduce your symptoms. If this happens, you will be taught a different breathing pattern to counteract symptoms and determine effectiveness.
Pediatric resonance evaluation
A resonance disorder is one that affects overall resonance quality such as too much or too little nasality. Resonance disorders can interfere with communication. Children with a history of cleft lip or cleft palate are at a higher risk of resonance disorders.