top of page
Friendship
Friends Eating Dinner
Eating Hamburger
Girl Enjoying her Drink
Eating a Meal
About Us

ABOUT US

Swallowing Specialists of Central GA, LLC offers a comprehensive program for diagnosis and treatment of people who have mild to complex swallowing problems, known as dysphagia. Serious complications can include choking, malnutrition, lung infections and pneumonia. Approximately 10 million people in the U.S. are evaluated each year for swallowing difficulties.

WHAT IS DYSPHAGIA?

Dysphagia (dis-FAY-juh) is the medical term for difficulty swallowing. Swallowing problems can happen in your mouth, throat, or esophagus (tube from your throat to your stomach). Dysphagia can be related to difficulty moving and coordinating your muscles as well as sensation, or the ability to feel where food is in your mouth and throat. Swallowing problems can cause dehydration, malnutrition, weight loss, and pneumonia.

 

 

There are many causes of dysphagia, but the some of the most common are stroke, brain injury, cancer, and progressive neurologic diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, ALS, or multiple sclerosis (ASHA.org). Some people have dysphagia for a short time because of sudden weakness from a flare up of an unrelated problem, such as the flu or kidney disease. Others may have more long-term swallowing problems. Because many conditions cause swallowing problems, it is hard to tell how many people are affected. It is thought that one in 25 adults experience a swallowing problem every year (Bhattacharyya, 2014).

Our Team

Swallowing Therapy For Head And Neck Cancer

If you have been recently diagnosed with Head, Neck or Oral Cancer (HNC) pre-habilitation is strongly encouraged to help you maintain your ability to swallow liquids, foods, and medications.  If you have been treated in the past for HNC and have developed swallowing or speech issues interventions are still available for you.  We offer a variety of interventions to assist with maintaining or regaining swallowing and communicational status before, during and after medical interventions for HNC.

Medical treatments for head and neck cancer can cause certain side effects that may affect a patient's speech, eating techniques, swallowing and mouth function. These cancer treatments may include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation, which could present the following side effects:

  • Dry mouth/throat (xerostomia)

  • Difficulty swallowing food and/or liquids (dysphagia)

  • Feeding tube dependence

  • Loss of taste

  • Heavy and sticky mouth secretions

  • Erythema and ulcerations during radiation treatment

  • Jaw tightness/pain (trismus)

  • Loss of appetite

  • Weight loss and dehydration

  • Changes in speech/voice

Lymphedema (swelling of the face, neck, and internal structures)

Picture2.png

How Can A Speech Language Pathologist Help Patient With Head/Neck Cancer?

Speech Pathologists assist patients pre-, during, and post radiation and surgical treatment and can provide the following:

  • Instrumental diagnosis of swallowing disorders by Modified Barium Swallow and/or Fiberoptic Nasendoscopy Evaluation of Swallowing (FEES) determine aspiration risk and provide information for specific therapy exercises and compensatory strategies.

  • Assist with managing side effects of radiation that effect swallowing and communication.

  • Treatment of Dysphagia (difficulty swallowing) utilizing compensatory strategies and specific exercises to improve strength and mobility.

  • Pre-treatment (before radiation or surgery) with training in swallowing exercises and other interventions that can ease the discomfort during treatment.

  • Treatment of Dysarthria (speech production) and oral-motor impairments (lip, tongue, voice, jaw movement).

  • Management of Head, neck and/or internal lymphedema of the swallowing musculature.

  • Education and treatment in use of alternative communication devices.

 

For additional information you can contact Swallowing Specialist of Central Georiga at 478-334-2328.

We host this areas Support Group for Persons with Head, Neck, and/or Oral Cancer (SPOHNC) within the Central Georgia area. Our group, “Out of the Mask”, meets  monthly to network with others who have either previously received treatment, are in treatment now, or recently diagnosed. This meeting was suspended due to COIVD-19, however we hope to resume in July 2021.

Picture1.jpg
Picture3.png

Outpatient Clinic

swallow office 3.jpg
swallow office.jpg

Diagnosis and Treatment Of Swallowing Disorders

Swallowing Specialists of Central Ga, LLC uses advanced equipment to determine what is causing your swallowing difficulties and how they can be treated. Specific assessment and treatment modalities may include:

  • Clinical Swallowing Assessment evaluating the oral stage, cranial nerves, and neuromuscular physiology

  • Modified Barium Swallow (MBS) study or Fiberoptic Endoscopic Evaluation of Swallowing (FEES)

  • Neuromuscular electrical stimulation to enhance use of traditional swallowing exercises for increased strength and range of motion

  • Referrals to ear, nose and throat specialists for assessment of vocal cord functioning or to a gastroenterologist physician for dilatation or endoscopy to assess esophageal motility

  • Referrals for Nutritional consult and diet education

  • Specialized Seating and Positioning

  • Written report to include interpretation of completed assessments, treatment plan and appropriate referrals

  • Development of a treatment plan of care that are specialized for each patient’s needs.

  •  Swallowing exercises to improve strength and coordination

  •  Special strategies or head positions to make swallowing safer and easier

  •  Diet texture changes, such as thickening liquids or pureeing food

swallow office 6.jpg
swallow office 9.jpg

As a Speech-Language Pathologist by discipline, Tamatha has always enjoyed working with neurogenic population for communication and cognitive linguistic skills in addition to swallowing disorders. She has been working with the adult population for her entire career focusing on adult communication needs. Examples of etiologies associated with communication difficulties: degenerative disease, stroke and TBI rehabilitation.  Tamatha can provide assessment and treatment for all motor speech, voice, language and cognitive linguistic communication deficits in a one on one setting with patient driven plans of care and goals.

Provide your patient with an evidence-based, cost effective, live video,
that is a GOLD STANDARD in swallowing diagnostics.

First and foremost, you can NOT diagnose, assess, and treat what you can not see. We owe it to our patients to provide the most research based, comprehensive, cost effective assessment of swallowing.

 

At Swallowing Specialists of Central GA, we provide FEES (flexible Fiberoptic Endoscopic Evaluation of Swallowing) services. FEES has been found to be a GOLD STANDARD in assessment and management of oropharyngeal dysphagia.

 

Recent research has shown that FEES and MBSS have a 97-100% inter-rater reliability, but did you know that FEES has been shown to be higher in specificity and severity in identifying penetration, aspiration, residue, and spillage?  You do now!

A FEES procedure provides objective, measurable data to prove medical necessity of speech therapy services.  With a FEES done in the patient’s natural environment, most research based treatments for this underlying pathophysiology. No more arbitrary lingual exercises for everyone, real EVIDENCE-BASED patient-specific treatments.

 There are no radiation restrictions or barium limits that have to be followed. If you are suspecting fatigue with a patient, the study can be performed for the entire meal.

mobile fees.jpg
mobile fees 2.jpg

The MBSS is great at giving us an objective snapshot of the swallow but is not ideal for a patient that fatigues easily. A mobile FEES procedure provides a realistic assessment and captures the “true picture” of what is happening at meals. And we come to you!

Our Services
Mobile Fees

HAPPY PATIENTS

"Words cannot express my gratitude to Tamatha Rutherford at the Swallowing Clinic.  I was referred to her when no other doctor could diagnosis my condition. It was after one visit with Tamatha that she knew what was going on with me. She provides me with exceptional specialty treatment care for my swallowing, breathing, and talking.  If it wasn’t for her continued professional care and constant pushing me forward in my treatment I would not be as well as I am now.  She has gone above and beyond to connect me with other providers to ensure I receive quality care for my ALS. Tamatha Rutherford treats me with warmth and compassion as if I was a member of her family.  It is nice to be cared for by someone who truly cares for me. I can’t thank her enough for her dedication and level of commitment to me and my family as we travel down this ALS road. If someone searching for a swallowing specialist that will care for you as part of her family, then I highly recommend you see Tamatha at the Swallowing Clinic."

Duane Preszler

"I have been to her for therapy for almost all of this year. She has brought me a long way. I look forward to all of my visits because she helps keep me in a positive mood. She always greets me with a smile. I always leave her office feeling much better than I did before I got there. She is so up lifting. My wife and I both love her."

LeRoy Davis

"Tamatha Rutherford is a very dedicated specialist who has a heart for helping people. I think that she would be exceptional in any endeavor. Dysphagia is an almost silent disorder until you begin having symptoms.  I am so glad that my doctor chose to send me here. The things that I have learned from Tamatha are so simple and yet so important. Thank you Tamatha!"

Barbara Price

"I am writing this letter to express to you how pleased I am with my expereince at Swallowing Specialist of Central Georgia. Ms. Rutherford is very caring and personable. In fact; everyone that I've come in contact with, during my visits, was professional and courteous. I highly recommend Swallowing Specialist of Central Georgia."

Albert Blassingame

Success Stories

CONTACT US

We accept all the major insurance providers, including Medicare, however we are unable to accept Medicaid patients at this time.

Self-pay patients are welcome with no referrals. 

If using private or Medicare insurers, a referral from your physician is required.

CALL FOR AN APPOINTMENT!

swallow office 5.jpg
Our Address

610 3rd St Ste 200,

Macon, Georgia 31201-3262

478-334-2328

Opening Hours

Monday Thru Thursday 8:30 To 4:00

Fridays Please Call For Hours.

 

swallow office 8.jpg

REQUEST APPOINTMENT!

(Please know these requested appointments are emailed to the staff, someone will be in contact to confirm the time and date of the appointment)

Thanks for submitting!

Contact Us
bottom of page