NMES is routinely used by physical and occupational therapists to help restore muscle function. The VitalStim® Therapy device was specifically developed in 2002 for the small muscles on the throat used for swallowing. The FDA has mandated that only clinicians that are VitalStim certified may use this treatment for swallowing therapy. VitalStim® Therapy administers a small, carefully calibrated electrical impulse to the swallowing muscles in the throat through electrodes attached to the skin. The electrical current stimulates the nerves that make the muscles contract. By applying this current during exercise, NMES can cause a greater number of muscle fibers to contract during the exercise which in turn can make the therapy more effective. VitalStim® Therapy is painless, and patients describe that it feels similar to the tingly sensation when a part of the body, like the foot “falls asleep”. The use of NMES in swallowing treatment is well supported by clinical research. Studies have shown that using this equipment during swallowing exercise greatly improves the effectiveness of the treatment.
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