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Sacred Heart University, has received a $74,700 Connecticut Health and Educational Facilities Authority (CHEFA) grant to develop systematic, standardized training to evaluate patients’ ability to swallow. Ciara Leydon,Ph.D., associate professor of speech-language pathology, will administer the new program.
Feeding and swallowing disorders are serious and widespread, occurring in 50 percent of those who have had a stroke, head and neck cancers or neurodegenerative diseases, and 85 percent of children with disabilities, such as cerebral palsy and Down Syndrome. The disorders are associated with significant financial, health and psychosocial burdens.
Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) evaluate 10 million children and adults annually in the United States for these disorders, according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.
While fiberoptic endoscopic evaluation of swallowing (FEES) is used commonly to detect these disorders, there is no national standard FEES curriculum to train students in the skills they need to diagnose children and adults properly.
“We are pleased to provide this important grant to standardize the training curriculum addressing swallowing disorders. This is a serious issue and the new curriculum can be utilized in multiple teaching environments. By providing this grant we are addressing two of CHEFA’s core priority funding areas of education and healthcare” stated Jeanette Weldon, CHEFA’s Executive Director.