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Agency-based Occupational Therapist Service
<<Oral Training to Improve Eating Skill >>

To help service users eat effectively, the therapist will not only provide appropriate tableware but also offer specific trainings to service users on chewing and swallowing skills as necessary.
    

 

Chewing and Swallowing problems are generally caused by weak muscles of the mouth, and problems in oral sense organ and reflex. If the service user is unable to eat smoothly because of the abovementioned problems, other problems such as choking feeling or malnutrition may also appear. Hence, the therapist will offer service users-specific trainings. For instance, some service users who are allergic to texture of food, may feel difficult to swallow or have nauseation. The therapist will try to reduce the service users' oral allergic reaction. Figure 1 shows a vibration rod with sponge on the top. The therapist will use this training tool to improve or reduce their mouth feel when necessary.



   Figure 2   
  
     



Apart from the chewing muscles, the tongue is also closely related to swallowing.

      In order to swallow the food sucessfully, the tongue is resposible to push the food to the back of the mouth. Therefore, a deft tongue is essential for swallowing the food safely and smoothly. The small rod with movable beads on the top in Figure 3 is used for flexibility training of the tongue.  



     

Figure 4

     

        
Figure 1
 
     

     


Figure 2 shows another common Oral Training Tool – massage bean bag. Massage bean bags are made of different materials. For example, there are common cloth bags filled with beans and fluffy bags filled with cotton. The therapist will use these tools to massage the service users’ cheeks and jaws so as to improve their chewing ability.



          
 

    Figure 3
   


    

     

There are many modes of oral training. For those service users who have difficyulty in opening the mouths, the therapist, apart from applying local massage, may also use oral training tools with different thickness  (Figure 4) to help them open their mouths gradually  and improve the range of oral motion.





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