When To Use The Supraglottic Swallow Maneuver
The supraglottic swallow maneuver aims to:
- Prevent aspiration by closing the airway at the level of the vocal folds before and during the swallow, and…
- Clear residue after the swallow.
During this exercise, the patient voluntarily closes their vocal folds by holding their breath before and during the swallow and then coughing immediately after the swallow.
Supraglottic Swallow Contraindications
Patients must be able to follow multi-step directions. This maneuver may not be appropriate for patients with cognitive impairments.
If the patient has a heart condition, consult with their doctor before recommending this maneuver.
For premade dysphagia handouts and treatment guides, check out The Adult Speech Therapy Starter Pack!
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How To Do The Supraglottic Swallow
- Breathe in then hold your breath
- While holding your breath, swallow
- Cough out the breath you were holding as strong as possible
…But Is It Evidence-Based?
It can be confusing when the dysphagia treatment literature contradicts itself. One study may find that a certain exercise is effective. While another finds the exact opposite!
But just because a certain exercise lacks proof, doesn’t necessarily mean that it shouldn’t be used (Langmore, S.E. & Pisegna, J.M., 2015).
So what’s a clinician to do?
First of all, keep up with the research and current best practices! But also be guided by the principles of motor learning, neuroplasticity, and exercise rehabilitation.
Below is a quick review. To learn more, read How To Make Dysphagia Treatment Exercises More Effective.
- Work at the patient’s level
- Keep exercises salient (the best exercise for swallowing is swallowing!)
- Be specific
- Emphasize correct form
- Repeat, repeat, repeat
- Do different types of movements
- Gradually increase the challenge
- American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (n.d.). Adult Dysphagia. (Practice Portal). Retrieved May, 10, 2023, from www.asha.org/Practice-Portal/Clinical-Topics/Adult-Dysphagia/
- Langmore, S.E., & Pisegna, J.M. (2015). Efficacy of exercise to rehabilitate dysphagia: A critique of the literature. International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 17(3), 222-229.
For evidence-based patient handouts, worksheets, templates, and much more, check out The Adult Speech Therapy Starter Pack!