Conference Offers Hope for People With Dysphagia

New Protocol Addresses Dehydration Complaints Often Voiced by Patients

Sept. 25, 2009

Thirst and dehydration are common complaints for people with dysphagia – a disorder that affects a person’s ability to swallow normally. But local health care providers recently learned about an option that helps patients with dysphagia quench their thirst and improve their quality of life.

Over 100 speech-language pathologists visited the UT Dallas Callier Center for Communication Disorders on Sept. 19 to learn about the Frazier Water Protocol, a management program that allows patients with dysphagia to drink water.

Kathy Panther, speech-language pathologist and rehab director for the Frazier Rehab Institute in Louisville, Ky., was the featured speaker.

“Kathy and the Frazier team have successfully treated thousands of patients with dysphagia using the water protocol,” said Helen Kenedi, M.S., clinical lecturer in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences. “Allowing people to drink water seems so logical, but the practice has been discouraged for decades for patients with dysphagia. Thanks to Kathy and her desire to share this successful and beneficial program with others, we are now seeing more clinicians offer water to their patients.”

Dyphagia interferes with a person’s ability to swallow normally which often results in food and beverages entering the lungs – also referred to as aspiration. Since the lungs are unable to absorb these materials, the patient increases his risk of developing pneumonia.

“Patients who aspirate thin liquids are often restricted to drinking thickened liquids,” said Kenedi. “These patients frequently complain that the thickened liquids leave them extremely thirsty and unsatisfied.” 
 
Panther and the Frazier team began offering water to patients with dysphagia in 1984. Since small amounts of water in the lungs can be absorbed rather quickly, given the proper parameters, the risk of developing pneumonia can be minimized. The Frazier Water Protocol allows patients access to water and ice in a safe manner.

The Bruton Conference Series on Communication Disorders sponsored the event. The series began in 1982 through a charitable trust established by David Bruton Jr., a distinguished Texan and industry leader.


Media Contact: Debra Brown, UT Dallas, (214) 905-3049, debra@utdallas.edu
or the Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, newscenter@utdallas.edu

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Bruton Conference attendees

Speech-language pathologist Kathy Panther described a protocol that would allow patients with dysphagia to drink water despite the fact that they have been discouraged from doing so for decades.

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