Swallowing is a skill developed from infancy. A swallowing problem can occur at any stage of life:
- Babies born prematurely or children with abnormalities with the structure of their head, neck and face can have trouble feeding because of swallowing difficulties
- Around 15–30 percent of people aged 65+ living in the community have a swallowing difficulty and that figure rises above 50 percent for older Australians living in nursing homes (choking is the second biggest cause of death for nursing home residents)
- Almost 50 percent of stroke survivors experience swallowing difficulties
- 69 percent of people with Parkinson’s disease and 25 percent of people with Multiple Sclerosis have swallowing difficulties.
Australians with undiagnosed difficulties are frequently referred to health practitioners other than speech pathologists – often for expensive and invasive investigations – when a speech pathologist could readily manage what Kate describes as a largely invisible disorder that’s poorly understood by the general community and rarely addressed in government policy.
SWING BY by this information booth until 1.30 TODAY to chat with Kate, speech pathology manager Sheree Hammersley (left) and other members of this dynamic six-person team.