Frequently Asked Questions

About Phase Zero:

What is Phase Zero Therapy?

We are speech-language pathologists in Silver City, NM that provides adult speech-language and dysphagia therapy. We are a veteran and minority owned company that has 20 years of combined experience. Go to our About Us page to learn more.

Why Phase Zero?

We offer many years of expertise and skills diagnosing and treating a variety of disorders like dysphagia. We specializes in areas of feeding and swallowing difficulty and offer various therapy options, to rehabilitate patients with swallowing disorders.

What are the Phases of swallowing and the digestive tract?

When clinicians learn about the phases of swallowing and the digestive tract, we learn about four phases:
The first phase is the “oral phase” or the “oral preparatory phase”. This is where you chew up and manipulate the cheeto using your teeth, lips and tongue.
The second phase is the “oral transit phase”. This is where you take the chewed up Cheeto, now known as the “bolus”, and form it into a football shaped piece and move it towards the back of your throat.
The third phase is known as the “pharyngeal phase”. This is where the bolus is moved through a series of spaces, or “pharyngeal recesses” using an intricate series of constrictions. This is possibly the most complicated phase of the swallow as it involves about 25 pairs of muscles working in sequence with each other.
The final phase is the “esophageal phase”. This is where the Cheeto bolus passes through the esophagus and into the stomach through a process called peristalsis.
As clinicians we pick apart phases one through four to explain disorders in swallowing and find ways to compensate for deficiencies and make swallowing safe.

Where does Phase Zero fit in all ?

Phase Zero refers to all the sensory and social parts of swallowing problems (dysphagia) that are often overlooked by the medical community. The isolation a person feels when they cannot eat with their family because of coughing or choking. The inability to enjoy hot coffee with a friend, or a cold beer after a long days work because the swallow function is impaired. The sights and smells of a holiday meal that will not be enjoyed because it has to be pureed or put in a special bowl or cup for easier consumption.
As medical clinicians, we often get so focused on explaining the physiologic and anatomic variations and responses to dysphagia and forget the social and cultural aspects that involves food and eating.
In our opinion, Phase Zero is as important as phases one through four.

Speech Disorders:

What is Apraxia?

Apraxia of speech is a motor speech disorder. The messages from the brain to the mouth are disrupted, and the person cannot move his or her lips or tongue to the right place to say sounds correctly, even though the muscles are not weak. The severity of apraxia depends on the nature of the brain damage. Apraxia can occur in conjunction with dysarthria (muscle weakness affecting speech production) or aphasia (language difficulties related to neurological damage). Apraxia of speech is also known as acquired apraxia of speech, verbal apraxia, and dyspraxia.

What is Dysarthria?

Dysarthria is a motor speech disorder. It results from impaired movement of the muscles used for speech production, including the lips, tongue, vocal folds, and/or diaphragm. The type and severity of dysarthria depend on which area of the nervous system is affected.

What is Stuttering?

Stuttering affects the fluency of speech. It begins during childhood and, in some cases, lasts throughout life. The disorder is characterized by disruptions in the production of speech sounds, also called “disfluencies.” Most people produce brief disfluencies from time to time. For instance, some words are repeated and others are preceded by “um” or “uh.” Disfluencies are not necessarily a problem; however, they can impede communication when a person produces too many of them.

What are the most common Voice Problems?

We have all experienced problems with our voices, times when the voice is hoarse or when sound will not come out at all! Colds, allergies, bronchitis, exposure to irritants such as ammonia, or cheering for your favorite sports team can result in a loss of voice. Here are some types of voice disorders:

  • Vocal Cord Nodules and Polyps
  • Vocal Cord Paralysis
  • Paradoxical Vocal Fold Movement
  • Spasmodic Dysphonia

Swallowing (Dysphagia):

What are swallowing disorders?

Swallowing disorders, also called dysphagia (dis-FAY-juh), can occur at different stages in the swallowing process:
Oral phase – sucking, chewing, and moving food or liquid into the throat
Pharyngeal phase – starting the swallowing reflex, squeezing food down the throat, and closing off the airway to prevent food or liquid from entering the airway (aspiration) or to prevent choking
Esophageal phase – relaxing and tightening the openings at the top and bottom of the feeding tube in the throat (esophagus) and squeezing food through the esophagus into the stomach

What causes swallowing disorders in adults?

Some causes of feeding and swallowing problems in adults are:
Damage to the nervous system, such as:

  • stroke
  • brain injury
  • spinal cord injury
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • multiple sclerosis
  • amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease)
  • muscular dystrophy
  • cerebral palsy
  • Alzheimer’s disease

Problems affecting the head and neck, including:

  • cancer in the mouth, throat, or esophagus
  • injury or surgery involving the head and neck
  • decayed or missing teeth, or poorly fitting dentures

What are some signs or symptoms of swallowing disorders?

Several diseases, conditions, or surgical interventions can result in swallowing problems.
General signs may include:

  • coughing during or right after eating or drinking
  • wet or gurgly sounding voice during or after eating or drinking
  • extra effort or time needed to chew or swallow
  • food or liquid leaking from the mouth or getting stuck in the mouth
  • recurring pneumonia or chest congestion after eating
  • weight loss or dehydration from not being able to eat enough

As a result, adults may have:

  • poor nutrition or dehydration
  • risk of aspiration (food or liquid entering the airway), which can lead to pneumonia and chronic lung disease
  • less enjoyment of eating or drinking
  • embarrassment or isolation in social situations involving eating.

Language Disorders:

What is Aphasia?

Aphasia is a communication disorder that results from damage to the parts of the brain that contain language (typically in the left half of the brain). Individuals who experience damage to the right side of the brain may have additional difficulties beyond speech and language issues. Aphasia may causes difficulties in speaking, listening, reading, and writing, but does not affect intelligence. Individuals with aphasia may also have other problems, such as dysarthria, apraxia, or swallowing problems..

Board Certified SLP’s

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Phase Zero Therapy
206 East 11th Street
Silver City, NM 88061
Phone: (575) 202-2713
Fax: (575) 342-5030