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Introducing Synchrony: Break Through Technology for Speech and Swallowing


After a brain injury, a person may have to learn to do many things all over again, including eating, drinking, and talking. At Special Tree we’re excited to announce our use of a revolutionary new device called Synchrony, which helps with speech and swallowing.Guided by Special Tree's experienced Speech Language Pathologists specially trained to use Synchrony, the device uses evidence-based protocols, a revolutionary new sEMG Biofeedback system, and ACP’s proven “PENS” e-stim technology to help clients with dysphagia. Common after brain injury, dysphagia is difficulty or discomfort when swalling; when it takes a person more time or effort to move food or liquid from the mouth to the stomach. Swallowing is critical to eating and drinking as well as talking. While we may not be conscious of it, we frequently swallow as a routine part of speaking.

“In rehabilitation, we’re trying to help the brain “remember” how to do things," explains therapist Lauren Garrisi, SLP. "We want to remap the wiring so the body does what it’s supposed to and in the right order." Garrisi goes on to explain that "for the first time with swallowing, we can base therapy on real time data.”  Synchrony helps therapists 'see' what’s happening in the body. In the past, therapists relied on what they could view from the outside, or on what clients were able to communicate to them. With Synchrony, they get real time information about exactly when the client is swallowing, or making certain movements with their mouth which impact speech.

The Syncrhony receives information via electrodes attached to the throught or cheeks which communicate with the device through blue tooth. Each time the patient swallows, it is shown on the screen through therapeutic exercises and games that are fun and engaging. Whether it is a bar graph going up and down or a kangaroo hopping up to capture treats each time the person swallows, Synchrony provides a very effective visual to actually see the swallow. For clients, seeing the swallow helps their brain make the connection and better understand what they need to do. Therapists can then reinforce the correct movements when they are shown on screen, rather than trying to explain verbally what to do.

Being able to swallow properly and speak properly can have a big impact on a person’s recovery and overall quality of life. “The Synchrony is helping us achieve better outcomes more quickly, and could even help some clients avoid more costly treatment," explains Garrisi. "We are excited to see the impact it will have as we begin using Synchrony in treatment with more and more people.”

Special Tree demonstrated the Synchrony on WDIV local 4 Live in the D with Chuck Gaidica and Tati Amare as part of Brain Injury Awareness Month.