Tagged "Toothettes"


Ask A Therapist: Bite Block & Tongue Depressor Questions

Posted by Deborah Grauzam on

I have a student who is using the red bite blocks. He just started. When I put the bite block #2 between his teeth he slides them over. Is this normal or should I reposition them?

I have another student who is having a very hard time holding the tongue depressor between his lips. He has a hard time dissociating between his lips and his tongue and jaw. His tongue is retroflex for l. He is currently working in l in the final positing of words and is having a hard time bringing the tongue forward and not back. Any advice?

Thanks

Rebecca

 

Hi Rebecca

I would definitely reposition. I often have to have the patient bite a couple of times until it is positioned correctly especially with patients with severe weakness. You may even want to practice the biting without the bite block for correct position first and then go in with the bite block. Sometimes that helps as well. 

As far as the second part of the question, I would make sure that I have addressed any jaw weakness first. That is typically the foundation of the issue. As far as the tongue placement I would work on stimulating with the toothette the forward placement of the tongue. I would touch with the toothette on the alveolar ridge where you want the tongue tip to touch and then I would touch the tip of the tongue with the toothette. You can use vibration with the toothette if your client will accept that. This has helped many patients I have worked with find the appropriate placement. 

Please let me know if you have any other questions. We are always here and happy to help.

Thanks, 

Liz

 

Elizabeth Smithson, MSP, CCC-SLP is a Speech-Language Pathologist who has over 11 years of professional experience working with infants, children, adolescents and adults. She earned her Master of Speech Pathology at the University of South Carolina. Liz is also a Level 5 TalkTools® Trained Therapist. She has received specialized training in Oral Placement Therapy, Speech, Feeding, Apraxia, Sensory Processing Disorders, and PROMPT©. Liz works with clients with a wide range of disabilities including Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndrome, and Spinal Muscular Atrophy.  She works through her own private practice Elizabeth Smithson Therapy, LLC in the home setting and in the TalkTools® office in Charleston, SC.

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Ask A Therapist: 3 year old with Moebius Syndrome

Posted by Deborah Grauzam on

You all have been amazing when I have asked for help with my students, so I have another question. I have just evaluated a 3 ½ year old who was diagnosed at birth with Moebius Syndrome. Although I have had difficulty finding information about this syndrome, I managed to find an article Sara Rosenfeld-Johnson wrote that was extremely helpful and plan to follow her recommendations. My main concern right now is that a Haberman bottle was used to feed him, so now he clamps his teeth down on the flute and straw when I try to work with him. Is there any tool that is beneficial to inhibiting the teeth biting and promoting the normal suck and swallow and blowing? And if you have any other references for oral motor therapy related to damage to the 7th cranial nerve I would appreciate it. THANK YOU!!!!!!   Thank you for the compliment and the question.  I have worked with Sara and the Moebius population for the past 10 years and hope I can help with your question!

 

The clamping of the teeth is common since the primary problem we are working with is the inability to close the lips.  So this is very common with most of the children and adults we work with.  The key initially is to make the mouthpiece big enough to fit into the current lip opening.  To determine if this is even appropriate to begin, you need to know if the client has paralysis or paresis.  If you have seen any upper facial movement, flutters or twitches then you are looking at paresis and working on these skills may improve lip and cheek function.  Here is a basic outline of what you might do with straw and horn blowing; both a part of a complete oral placement program that would also address any deficits in jaw stability as you are trying to achieve lip from jaw dissociation (I can give you more information on that if you would like):

1st:  Begin by using the TalkTools vibrator and trimmed Toothette (the vibration is the key) under the upper lip and in the cheeks to provide sensation to the muscles. This would be done for 1-2 minutes and therapy activities would then follow.

2nd:  Horn Blowing:  Measure the lip opening when the child is in a resting lip posture, or if possible, trying to close his lips on command.  You may begin with Horn #1 if they have the breath support and skill but also may want to start with the Alex Tub Flute (TalkTools has begun carrying them but you will need to check availability).  This horn is easier to blow and has a wider mouthpiece.  If you use Horn #1, wrap the tip of the horn in medical tape several times until the mouthpiece measures the lip open position.  This will allow you to then support the jaw with your non-dominant hand and place the horn between the lips, rather than the teeth (the pre-requisite is that they know to exhale on command).  Using the TalkTools Progressive Jaw Closure Tubes is also helpful in teaching this skill.  As they meet the criteria, you can unwrap the horn mouthpiece one time and repeat until you have removed all the tape.  The lip, assuming there is the ability to gain movement will follow with practice.

3rd:  Straw drinking:  I would suggest starting with the Honey Bear with Flexible Straw.  There is a program Sara and I wrote several years ago called the Ice Sticks Program that has a technique using a syringe to teach a client to retract the tongue and swallow.  This same program can also be used with Moebius Syndrome with the goal of teaching the child to “slurp and swallow”.  You can use the Honey Bear following the same principles as the syringe technique to place the straw in the buccal cavity, squeeze and then tell the child to slurp.  You would need to ensure he is not biting on the straw (support with your non-dominant hand if needed) and that the tongue is retracted (you will often see the tongue protrude between the central incisors as an additional compensatory strategy if tongue retraction is difficult for them.  As they learn to “slurp” the liquid you have squeezed into the cheek, it activates the cheek, lip and tongue muscles, eventually leading to the child's ability to “slurp” the straw on their own.  There are several steps to teach this and I’m happy to share more detail if you need it as well!

I would also encourage you to visit the Moebius Foundation website.  Our past presentations should be available for you to view and may be helpful as well.

I hope this gets you started!  Clients with Moebius Syndrome are a joy to work with once you have the appropriate tools and starting point!  We’ve had great success with many individuals using these techniques!

Thank you,

Renee Roy Hill, MS, CCC-SLP

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Ask A Therapist: Using Vibration for Low Muscle Tone

Posted by Deborah Grauzam on

Hi TalkTools,

 

I have a question about using vibration (as with the DnZ-Vibe or Vibrator & Toothettes). I understand that vibration can be used to "wake up" the sensory system, and I believe I’ve heard that it can have a temporarily positive effect on low muscle tone. I’ve read that vibration should be used in short durations, but I was wondering if you had any guidelines for the maximum or minimum duration of vibration? I’m thinking especially in a case of low muscle tone as in children with Down Syndrome.

 

Thank you very much!

 

Riley

 

Hi Riley,

I’m Renee, a TalkTools® Instructor, and I would be happy to help you. This is an excellent question, I am asked this many times when teaching and working with clients!

You are correct, vibration can give the muscle more input and therefore often trigger a better motor response, thus “waking up” or “stimulating” the muscle to move. There are no specific “time” or duration guidelines for this. It is our responsibility as the therapist to look at the motor response while providing the input. So for some children with significantly low tone and an extremely under-responsive sensory system, it may take longer for the muscle to respond. But for a child who may have a better sensory system, the client may only need quick input 1-2x to see the motor response. It is important to remember what specific motor movement you are looking for and that the stimulation given is causing the appropriate reaction.

For example if I am providing stimulation to the lateral margin of the tongue to facilitate tongue tip lateralization to the back molars, once I see the movement, the vibration has done its job. Then I need to decide if my goal is repetitive movement using the vibration - leading me to possibly provide the input several times until I no longer see the tongue tip follow the stimulus - or possibly to quickly transition that movement to function (i.e. placing a cube of food on the back molar so the client then uses the movement in a functional way) which is my highest priority but sometimes not yet obtainable in my first sessions with the client.

Once I am sure of the goal of the vibration stimulation (what am I looking for in the motor system) it is easier to determine how long I should use it! The goal is always to eventually eliminate the vibration so that the movement is then stimulated through functional activities such as eating and speaking.

I hope this helps!

Renee Roy Hill, MS, CCC-SLP

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