At The Swallowing Disorders Center at Hospital for Special Care (HSC), we go beyond diagnosis and strive to meet the goals of our patients in safely eating and drinking as we recognize how important that is in life.

The Swallowing Disorders Center at HSC offers comprehensive evaluation and treatment for patients experiencing dysphagia. Epidemiology studies indicate the prevalence of dysphagia may be as high as 22% in those 50 and older with over 15 million people affected. Serious complications from swallowing difficulty can include malnutrition/weight loss, dehydration, aspiration pneumonia and overall decreased quality of life.

Swallowing is a complex process. Many different muscles and nerves are needed to coordinate the act of swallowing food, liquids, medications and secretions. It is important to see a speech pathologist who has expertise in swallowing disorders.

There are numerous types of swallowing disorders causing a variety of symptoms which may include:

  • Frequent coughing or throat clearing associated with eating or drinking
  • Choking when eating
  • Wet voice quality after eating or drinking
  • Sensation of food sticking in the throat 
  • Pain when swallowing or persistent sore throat
  • Heartburn or reflux
  • Unexplained weight loss 
  • Recurrent diagnosis of pneumonia 

People can experience dysphagia due to:

  • Stroke
  • Spinal Cord Injury
  • Acquired-Brain Injury
  • Head/neck cancer or surgery
  • Degenerative neurological disorders such as Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s Disease, ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), Muscular Dystrophy, Alzheimer’s Disease or Dementia
  • Inflammatory myopathies
  • Thoracic surgeries leading to vocal fold weakness or paralysis 
  • Recent history of tracheostomy or intubation with ventilation
  • Heartburn or reflux/GERD • Esophageal strictures, achalasia, esophageal spasm
  • Aging and reduced reserve to compensate 

The staff at The Swallowing Center at HSC utilize advanced equipment to assess and determine the cause of swallowing difficulty and offer treatment and training to address the problem.


Modified Barium Swallow: A specialized video x-ray study which allows the anatomy and entire swallowing process to be viewed. Patients receive a DVD of the exam along with the written report to share with their physician or treating speech pathologist. We have staff trained in MBSImp. This is a research-based standardization of the test allowing more consistent, specific and accurate results and communication of results.

Fiberoptic Endoscopic Evaluation of Swallowing (FEES): A small fiberoptic camera is placed through the nose to assess swallowing function. Patients receive photographs depicting swallowing function/impairment along with the written report to share with their physician or treating speech pathologist.

We can assist with referrals to ENT or GI physicians in the community with whom we work with if further diagnostic testing is warranted.


  • Biofeedback treatment with Surface Electromyography (SEMG) and endoscopy to improve patient understanding and carryover of trained techniques or strategies.

Strengthening Programs/Respiratory Retraining:

  • Our staff is trained in the McNeil Dysphagia Therapy Program (MDTP) - a systematic exercise - based approach to treatment for adults.
  • Use of the Expiratory Muscle Strength Trainer (EMST) to strengthen expiratory muscles and increase lung volumes to improve swallowing as well as speech and voice.
  • Use of the Madison Oral Strengthening Therapeutic (MOST) device to quantitatively assess tongue muscle strength and exercise to strengthen.

To schedule an appointment call outpatient rehab services at 860.832.6258.

We are centrally located in New Britain, Connecticut with easy access from Routes 91, 84, 15 and 9. There is convenient free parking for easy access to our clinic.