Overview of Dysphagia Management - Current Trends and Practice Patterns

These online learning modules are offered by the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine CPE office and the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD).

Dyspahgia management and neuromuscular care is a specialized area of practice with a growing evidence base to support a variety of rehabilitation interventions. The purpose of these modules are to familiarize swallowing clinicians and health care practitioners of this specialized body of knowledge. Using a case based approach Dr. Cleary illustrates current concepts and practice patterns.

Who is it for?

These online modules will be of interest to:

  • Speech Language Pathologists
  • Occupational Therapists
  • Clinical Dietitians
  • Healthcare Practitioners who specialize in ALS and neuromuscular conditions


The Dyspagia Management online learning modules are house on the University of Alberta's eClass external system. Once payment is made you will be contacted by the site administrator and provided instructions on how to set up your course login. Once you have been added to the modules by the site administrator you will have 90 day unlimited access to the modules. Each of the modules are self-paced meaning that there is no 'live' instruction.

Module Developer/Presenter

Stuart Cleary, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, R-SLP, Board Certified Specialist in Swallowing and Swallowing Disorders (BCS-S), is a Clinical Associate Professor in the University of Alberta's Department of Communication and Sciences and Disorders in the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine. He also holds the position of Adjunct Associate Professor in the Division of Neurology in the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry.

Stuart's primary clinical and research interests relate to swallowing function in degenerative diseases affecting older adults. He has more than 30 peer reviewed publications and 50 presentations/workshops on the topic of swallowing disorders.

Stuart currently teaches graduate courses in Anatomy and Physiology and Swallowing Disorders at the University of Alberta and is a facilitator in an Interprofessional Health Care Team Development (IntD410) course in the Palliative Care Stream. For the past 15 years he has run the Head & Neck Cadaver Lab teaching program for students in the MSc-SLP program and has continued to provide clinical care to adults with swallowing disorders.



$200.00 for 90 day unlimited access to all four modules (total of 14 educational hours).

Certificate of Completion

After module completion the University will issue a digital certificate noting the module content and number of educational hours




Module Descriptions

  • Module 1: Dysphagia Management in Neuromuscular Disease

    This module covers the following four areas:

    • Section 1: Overview of Dysphagia Management in ALS: Current Trends and Practice Patterns
    • Section 2: ALS Specialized Care & Rehab Philosophy
    • Section 3: Monitoring Disease Progression
    • Section 4: Case Study

    By the end of this module on Dysphagia Management, you will be able to:

    • Demonstrate awareness of defining characteristics neuromuscular conditions
    • Understand the basic epidemiology, natural history and clinical characteristics of ALS
    • Understand the role periodic multi-disciplinary assessments in facilitating appropriate medical and therapeutic interventions
    • Demonstrate awareness of common clinical swallowing issues, typical patterns of progression and frequently used dysphagia management strategies individuals with ALS

    This module contains 2.75 hours of lecture content plus knowledge checks for a total of 4 educational hours.

  • Module 2: Maximizing Swallowing Function though Respiratory Based Interventions

    This module covers the following five areas:

    • Section 1: Maximizing Swallowing Function through Respiratory-Based Interventions
    • Section 2: Signs & Symptoms Respiratory Insufficiency
    • Section 3: Respiratory Assessment of Neuromuscular Conditions
    • Section 4: Airway Clearance Behaviours & Clinical Research Related to Dysphagia Management
    • Section 5: Overview of Respiratory Muscle Aids & Rehab Approaches

    By the end of this module on respiratory based swallowing interventions, you will be able to:

    • Be familiar with current concepts in airway crisis management for people affected by neuromuscular disorders.
    • Be able to identify common clinical features & types of neuromuscular respiratory insufficiency.
    • Understand the physiological basis of neuromuscular respiratory failure and discuss current concepts and standards of respiratory care.
    • Describe common patterns in swallowing pathophysiology in ALS & how this leads to upper airway encumbrance with food, fluid & secretions.
    • Demonstrate awareness and knowledge of a variety airway clearance behaviors used in dysphagia management.
    • Explain the underlying physiological rationale for four commonly used respiratory muscle aides in cases of neuromuscular respiratory failure

    This module contains approx 3 hours of video lecture plus knowledge checks for a total of 4.3 educational hours.

  • Module 3: Advanced Dysphagia Practice in Neuromuscular Care

    This module covers the following four areas:

    • Section 1: Advanced Dysphagia Practice in Neuromuscular Care
    • Section 2: Managing Excessive Secreations: Drugs, Botox (r), Ratiation
    • Section 3: Current Practice Patterns Related to use of Thickened Liquids
    • Section 4: Current Concepts in Palliative Care

    By the end of this module on Dysphagia Management, you will be able to:

    • Describe common causes of airway secretion encumbrance & explain how these issues contribute to neuromuscular respiratory failure
    • Be familiar with current concepts in assessment of secretions ( i.e., thin or thick saliva, post-nasal drip, phlegm, or mucus in the lower airway) and options for managing excessive secretions in neuromuscular conditions
    • Be familiar with current evidence and practice patterns related to use of thickened liquids & free water protocols in neuromuscular cases
    • Demonstrate awareness of advanced principles of dysphagia management in terminal stages of neuromuscular disease & be familiar with current concepts in palliative care

    This module contains 1.8 hours of video lecture plus knowledge checks for a total of 3.1 educational hours.

  • Module 4: Cranial Nerve Function for Swallowing: A Clinical Refresher Cost

    The purpose of this E-learning course to to provide you with a basic overview of the anatomy and physiology of swallowing in adults.

    This module covers the following four areas:

    • Integrated & Interdependent Functions
    • Upper Airway muscles: Review and Refresher
    • Overview of Swallowing Physiology
    • Cranial Nerve Self-Study Tutorial

    By the end of this module on you will:

    • Be able to identify basic anatomical structures involved in swallowing
    • Understand cranial nerve motor & sensory innervation of swallowing
    • Demonstrate awareness swallowing bio-mechanics and describe how bolus propulsive & airway protective forces are generated
    • Be familiar with why the four swallowing stages are now viewed as integrated & interdependent behaviors that are influenced by sensory input

    This module contains 1.8 hours of video lecture plus knowledge checks for a total of 3 educational hours.