Featured Clinician

The Effect of the Passy-Muir® Valve on Disordered Swallowing

Liza Blumenfeld MA, CCC-SLP

At the 2012 Dysphagia Research Society Conference held in Toronto, Canada, Liza Blumenfeld MA, CCC-SLP from Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla, California presented a scientific paper on the effect of the Passy-Muir® Valve use on disordered swallowing. I had the opportunity to meet Ms. Blumenfeld and ask her about what prompted her interest in studying the Passy-Muir Valve. She told me that she has been working with tracheostomized and ventilator-dependent patients for the last 16 years. She explained that during her tenure at Vencor/Kindred in San Diego, California, a long term acute care facility, she routinely kept departmental statistics on dysphagia and weaning outcomes.

After formal implementation of a Passy-Muir Valve protocol, she and her administration noticed significant improvements in mean decannulation time and percentage of patients discharged on an oral diet. She felt strongly that the implementation of the Passy-Muir Valve as a standard of care played a significant role in these improved outcomes.

In 2006, while working at Scripps Memorial Hospital, Ms. Blumenfeld continued to observe significant and dramatic improvements in both swallowing and secretion management during fiberoptic endoscopic evaluations of swallowing (FEES) when the Passy-Muir Valve was utilized. In collaboration with her colleagues at Scripps Memorial Hospital and Dr. Peter Belafsky of UC Davis Medical Center, Sacramento, CA, she decided to formally study and document these changes.

“Why Did You Become a Respiratory Therapist?”

James Wood, RRT

Ever get the question, “Why did you become a Respiratory Therapist?” I know I have a few times throughout my respiratory career, and yet I always hesitate with my response. I was never quite sure how to answer. I knew it wasn’t because I loved working weekends, taking a night shift, or missing holidays with my family. But on one ordinary Thursday, the answer came to me. I was working in a long-term ventilator unit at a local skilled nursing facility, and the reason I chose this career became quite clear; I can make a difference in the lives of my patients.

On this particular Thursday, I was assigned as the therapist for “Joe,” an elderly man who came to my facility with end-stage pancreatic cancer. Joe was a pleasantly confused, depressed gentleman admitted on Assist Control after many failed weaning attempts in both the acute care and long-term acute care setting. The pulmonologist sent Joe to our facility to live out the rest of his days—which he’d predicted would be limited. Immediately on Joe’s admission, the respiratory department worked collaboratively with nursing and other members of the patient care team to develop a plan of care. The respiratory therapists worked diligently to wean Joe from Assist Control to an aerosol trach collar. This was not a smooth process, and we had quite a few bumps along the way. However, after a few weeks, we were making steady progress.

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