Honors Gallery

Vibro-tectile stimulation device and method for swallowing disorders

Award: Excellence in Technology Transfer

Year: 2012

Award Type:

Region: Mid-Atlantic

Laboratory:
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)

The Vibro-Tactile Stimulation Device is a noninvasive, intensive, swallowing retraining device that combines sensory stimulation with motor retraining to rehabilitate swallow function, initially targeted for dysphagia patients.

Dysphagia is a common disorder that creates difficulty swallowing. Patients at risk of choking on fluid or food face the risk of life-threatening aspiration pneumonia and may need to be fed through a tube. Dysphagia may occur as a result of stroke, brain injury, tumor removal, or neurodegenerative disease.

The overall purpose of the technology is to provide a new system for daily self-training of swallowing that is less costly and potentially more effective than options currently available. The device triggers the reflexive component of swallowing synchronous with volitional retraining throughout the day in a patient’s own environment. This can augment or replace current approaches to rehabilitation that depend on the patient having access to speech pathologists for a limited intervention of only a few hours a week.

The overall purpose of the technology is to provide a new system for daily self-training of swallowing that is less costly and potentially more effective than options currently available.

The Vibro-Tactile Stimulation Device was licensed to Passy-Muir, Inc., a small, privately owned company based in Irvine, Calif., with a worldwide reputation for the delivery of high-quality medical devices for voice and swallowing. Its product line includes non-mechanical swallowing and speaking valves for adults and children. Passy-Muir was granted rights to the technology under an exclusive license with the National Institutes of Health.