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    Dysphagia Therapy: The New Generation ecourse



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    Appropriate Disciplines

    • Speech Language Pathologist
    • Occupational Therapist
    • Certified Occupational Therapy Asst

Course Description

The new world of dysphagia therapy will have to yield greater results and shorter treatment times. Gone is the old treatment philosophy focused on compensatory strategies and downgrading of diets. The dysphagia therapist must learn to see the direct links between anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, and grading therapy up to challenging levels. This course will review the process of the swallow from anticipatory phase through esophageal, including muscle function and nerve innervation. A thorough chart review and medication history is critical to identify key information prior to a swallow screen and bedside eval. Sensory changes due to aging and disease processes impacting the patient's nutrition and diet selection will be discussed. Current research will be presented regarding stroke, Parkinson's Disease, ALS, MS, Head/Neck cancer and other disease processes resulting in dysphagia - what can we expect in each phase of swallow and how it relates to our therapy program. MBS and FEES clips of dysfunctional swallows will be reviewed and reports critiqued. Diet modification/selection, compensatory strategies and exercises are combined to provide optimum nutrition and hydration as well as muscle re-education to increase the effectiveness of the swallow. Documentation of patient, staff, and family education and therapy notes will be critiqued for content and skilled therapy documentation.

Course Requirements:
  • Computer with internet and working speakers/sound are required for this course.
  • Course must be completed within 30 days of activation (activate course within 6 months of purchase).
  • An online multiple-choice quiz (80% passing score) and submission of an online evaluation form are required for successful completion.
  • A certificate of completion will be available to print immediately after course is successfully completed.
  • SLPs - ASHA CEUs may be obtained by completing the online ASHA form and checking the "Report to ASHA" box.

AOTA Classification Codes
OT Process: Evaluation
OT Process: Intervention

Course Objectives

Upon successful completion of this course, participants will be able to:

  • Describe the process of the normal swallow including the impact of the esophagus.
  • Identify the anatomical structures relevant to the swallowing function
  • Describe the involvement of types I and II muscle fibers and the impact of muscle disuse atrophy on the swallow system
  • Interpret the results of a MBS as applicable to treatment planning
  • Discuss the decision making process for both diet modification and diet progression
  • Discuss the components of a functional evaluation report and goals
  • Discuss selection of effective treatment plan and exercises

Denise Dougherty


Denise Dougherty, MA, CCC-SLP
Denise owns and operates a private practice in Indiana, PA, where she conducts therapy with both children and adults. She is a legal consultant/expert witness in wrongful death/negligence lawsuits involving dysphagia. Denise is a co-editor of Private Practice Essentials: A Practical Guide for Speech-Language Pathologists, published by ASHA Press. She has presented workshops and written numerous articles appearing in the ASHA Leader on the topic of private practice. Denise served as a consultant for The Arijah Children’s Foundation in Anguilla, BWI, providing evaluations and therapy programs for special needs children. Ms. Dougherty was an adjunct faculty member at York College of Pennsylvania and Wesley College in Dover, Delaware. She is a past President of the American Academy of Private Practice in Speech Pathology and Audiology (AAPPSPA), and received the Academy’s 2007 Honor Award and 2014 Award of Excellence for her achievements. Ms. Dougherty is a member of the Technical Experts Panel for Quality of Insights of Pennsylvania, working on initiating quality measures for CMS to improve effectiveness, efficiency, economy and quality of services delivered to Medicare beneficiaries. She received her bachelor’s degree in communication disorders from Marywood University in Scranton, Pennsylvania; a master’s degree in communication disorders from St. Louis University. Ms. Dougherty is certified in VitalStim® therapy and is a VitalStim® instructor, has completed additional training in orofacial myology, is a member of the American Speech, Language and Hearing Association and has received numerous ASHA ACE Awards. For more information, please visit www.dldspeechpath.com.

Financial Disclosure Denise receives honoraria from CIAO for the presentation of her live courses and royalties for the sale of her online courses. Denise is in private practice and receives legal consultant/expert witness fees
Non-Financial Disclosure: There are no non-financial relationships to disclose.

120 Minutes
Review of the normal swallow system and swallowing anatomy and physiology
45 Minutes
Swallow Timing and Coordination
60 Minutes
Impact of Sensory Changes from Aging and Disease Processes
165 Minutes
Effective Assessment and Report Critique
30 Minutes
Diet and Liquid Modifications and Research
30 Minutes
Need for Instrumental Assessments – Which Ones and Why
30 Minutes
Review of Instrumental Assessments – What each reveal about the swallow
90 Minutes
MBS and FEES Clips
30 Minutes
Importance of Report – MBS Imp and PA Scale Score
45 Minutes
Putting it All Together
35 Minutes
What isn’t working, goals and review of documentation
120 Minutes
Therapy interventions to address dysfunctions and research
13.3 Hours

Delivery VIA:

  • Online - This course is offered in an online, on demand format.

Contact hours pre-approved for:

  • 13.0 Hours
  • CIAO is an ASHA Approved Provider #AAWA (1.3 ASHA CEUs) bubble sheet required
  • CIAO is an AOTA Approved Provider #4119 (1.3 AOTA CEUS)
  • This course meets PDU requirements for NBCOT (1.3 PDUs)
  • As an IACET Authorized Provider, CIAO offers CEUs for its programs that qualify under the ANSI/IACET Standard
  • CIAO is authorized by IACET to offer 1.3 CEUs for this program
  • Approved for:
  • 15.5 Hours OT/COTAs in FL (CE Broker #20-678214)

This course is offered for 1.3 ASHA CEUs (Intermediate level, Professional area).

The assignment of AOTA CEUs does not imply endorsement of specific course content, products, or clinical procedures by AOTA.

CIAO is recognized on the NBCOT Provider Registry (meets PDU requirements for NBCOT)


"Great course with great information!!!"

- Bell City, LA / Nov 2020

"Knowledgeable presenter with extensive experience and recourses shared. Thank you!"

- Chatham, MA / Nov 2020

"Excellent course ! Great ideas for creative ways to provide improved oral exercise program for SNF patients as well as helpful advice for documentation. "

- Boxboborough, MA / May 2020

"This was a great course - very long, but excellent information. Denise is very knowledgeable in the field of dysphagia. Some of her stories are scary/funny - but very relatable, because we've all had that "One patient," she speaks of. "


"AWESOME course and always enjoy taking Denise's courses. As an Occupational Therapist completing dysphagia assessments as well as addressing esophageal issues (which are very prevalent in this population) in a residential facility for the intellectually disabled for over 20 years, I admire the fact that Denise includes and mentions OT's in her courses. It's not always easy to find dysphagia related courses for OT's. Thank you Denise! "


"One of the best courses I taken since I have been practicing. I am an OT working with the developmentally disabled and encounter not only progressive decline in swallowing function in my clients, but just as many esophageal concerns. So thankful to see so much emphasis on that!"

- Sullivans Island, SC / Mar 2020

"The speaker was very knowledgeable and used her knowledge functionally so that it can be internalized by clinicians immediately."

- Brooklyn, NY / Feb 2020

"Good information. Quite a lot."

- Wichita, KS / Jan 2020

"Enjoyed the variety of therapeutic options. The MBS were of great value. Maybe spend extra time reviewing MBS exams."

- Bad Axe, MI / Dec 2019

"Knowledgable presenter. I like that each video were broken down into shorter 30 minute sections. It made it easier to complete after work over the course a week."

- Fullerton, CA / Jul 2019

"I thoroughly enjoyed this course. "

- Fredericksburg, VA / Jul 2019

"Very informative and practical. I will go back to this information many times over!"

- Madisonville, LA / Jun 2019

"Excellent course! Highly recommended to all SLPs, whether brand new clinicians or for those who have been practicing over 20 years."

- LaPorte, IN / Jun 2019

"Great course with excellent information. Really enjoyed the level of difficulty and understanding it provided."

- Granger, IN / Jun 2019

"Excellent presentation of material, Denise Dougherty was very knowledgeable and explained information in a way that was easy to learn and retain with various modes (visual, verbal, and demonstration of use). I love the handout links provided at the end of the course to assist in providing education and carryover to my patients. Highly Recommended Course. "

- Tacoma, WA / Jun 2019

"I really enjoyed this informative course. It is hard to find thorough and comprehensive dysphagia courses! This one was a winner."

- Kelso, WA / May 2019

"The instructor was very knowledgeable. She provided very useful information and regularly connected the information to practical scenarios."

- Sarasota, FL / May 2019

"I was absolutely enthralled by the instructor. I had a hard time turning off my computer to do other things. Thank you for the fantastic suggestions for strategies and thank you for suggesting some things I had come up with myself over the years. Have been at this profession since February of 1957 (started when a Freshman at Baylor U. back in the days when they put you in with a client when you took your first Speech Therapy class and you learned as you went along. (Dysphagia wasn't even mentioned!!!!!)"

- Lubbock, TX / May 2019

"I liked the examples and demonstrations"

- Buena Vista, CO / Mar 2019

"Good Course"

- Winter Haven, FL / Jan 2019