At the Branching of Deglutition
Novel electronics shall guide the food into the right tube

Swallowing is a vital process, but as long as it works smoothly, people do not spend much thoughts on this process. However, especially after strokes or craniocerebral injury, many patients are not capable to fully control deglutition. Such people constantly have to fear that food will go down the trachea instead of the oesophagus. The consequences are among others hazardous pneumonia. Often nasogastric feeding tubes are applied and a tracheotomy is performed to prevent patients from aspiration. This procedure, however, has a great impact on the daily life of the patients affected. Now, a group of medical doctors and scientists from Berlin are working together on a solution: Some of the muscles involved in the swallowing process are electrically stimulated via a neuro-prosthesis in order to support the movement of the larynx for protection of the airways. Additionally, a novel measuring system will be applied to monitor the success of the swallowing process. In case of aspiration a signal is sent to the neuro-prothesis, which then triggers a cough. In case of a successful application of this approach, the fear of choking on food and drinking can be taken from many patients.

This project won the Innovation Award 2009 for Medical Technology (Innovationspreis Medizintechnik 2009) of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). A funding of up to 400,000 Euro has been granted to conduct fundamental investigation of this approach.

Source: press release BMBF

Bioimpedanz geregelte Dysphagieprothese

Dr. Thomas Schauer
Control Systems Group
Technische Universität Berlin
Einsteinufer 17
D-10587 Berlin

PD Dr. Rainer O. Seidl
Ear, Nose and Throat Medicine Clinic
Unfallkrankenhaus Berlin
Warenerstrasse 7
D-12683 Berlin


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Dr. Thomas Schauer
PD Dr. Rainer O. Seidl