Case Study: Vital Stim Therapy


Mr. Paul Furst is a resident of Aliquippa who was hospitalized recently for acute respiratory failure with pneumonia. Unfortunately, Mr. Furst was unable to safely swallow any food or liquid which resulted in the need for placement of a feeding tube to provide him with nutrition and hydration. Mr. Furst was at significant risk of aspiration, which is the ingestion of food, liquid or foreign matter into the lungs which can result in the development of aspiration pneumonia and other medical complications. That’s when he came to Rochester Manor + Villa for short term rehabilitation.


Dr. Gehrlein, who is RM+V’s full time Medical Director, recommended that Paul participate in skilled speech therapy services for the assessment and treatment of dysphagia. Dysphagia is the medical term used to describe difficulty swallowing, a debilitating condition that affects millions of people. As part of his dysphagia therapy plan of care, Paul received Vital Stim Therapy which is the use of neuromuscular electrical stimulation in the treatment of dysphagia. Clinicians like Genesis Rehabilitation’s Jen Wolfe, SLP, who treats at RM+V, must complete a Vital Stimulation training course and receive a certification to enable them to provide this valuable service.


Vital Stim Therapy is an adjunctive modality to traditional exercise that uses the power of electrical stimulation with the benefits of swallowing exercises. Using Vital Stimulation in combination with traditional therapy allows certified clinicians to accelerate strengthening, restore function and help the brain remap the swallow. Ongoing research supports the use of these combined therapies to improve and restore swallowing function.


Following weeks of aggressive speech therapy with Jen through the use of Vital Stim Therapy, Paul demonstrated significant benefit and functional outcomes in his swallowing. He now no longer requires feeding from his surgically implanted feeding tube, and has been able to return home where he is now enjoying eating solid foods and drinking liquids normally. Paul credits his doctor, nurses and therapists for assisting him in his recovery, and states that everyone was so kind and helpful and treated him very well. Paul is delighted to be at home with his cat, Cooper, and thanks to the rehabilitation services at RM+V has been able to pick up his life right where he left off.