What Every Therapist Needs to Know About Dysphagia

Karen Sheffler, MS, CCC-SLP, BCS-S

What Every Therapist Needs to Know About Dysphagia

CE Information


Course Brochure

Contains CE information for additional professionals

Course Highlights

  • Improve your ability to perform thorough swallowingevaluations; maximize the utility of the clinical bedside swallowing evaluation to develop hypotheses that will guide further testing
  • Develop comprehensive evidence-based practice treatment programs, which are compensatory and rehabilitative to improve patient outcomes.
  • Utilize the most appropriate instrumental swallowing assessments such as Videofluoroscopy (MBSS) and Videoendoscopy (FEES)
  • Aspiration pneumonia prevention and aspiration precautions strategies you can use the next day to reduce risks, while not sacrificing quality of life
  • Hands-on labs to thicken liquids and to understand the new food and liquid diet framework from the International Dysphagia Diet Standardization Initiative (IDDSI)
  • Become an effective advocate for dysphagia awareness and to obtain the needed services for your patient

Additional Info

This course will review the swallowing basics through use of dynamic, multi-media lectures and hands-on labs.Labs will explore oral-sensorimotor examinations, case history taking, thickening liquids, food consistency testing, complying with the new IDDSI standards, and more. Participants will dive into challenging ethical and end-of-life topics in small group discussions. Therapists should no longer feel like a novice or too scared to ask your questions during a more advanced course setting or in online forums. Let's answer those questions and provide resources to guide your quest for more training. Our aim is to take you from "not knowing what you do not know," (which in medicine is pretty scary) - to knowing your strengths and weaknesses in the dysphagia knowledge base. We want to provide a framework to help you fill in your training gaps in the future, so that you can provide your best evidencebased patient-centered care possible.

[ASHA:Intermediate level, Professional Area]
  1. Classify potential causes and impacts of dysphagia.
  2. Provide thorough justification as to why a medical team should be concerned about dysphagia in a given patient.
  3. Explain the 4 interacting phases of dysphagia, referringto resources and charts that aide in the recall of the muscles and cranial nerves involved.
  4. Describe what information a bedside swallowing evaluation can and cannot provide.
  5. Advocate for the appropriate instrumental examinations when needed to answer pertinent questions based on the hypotheses formed from thorough chart reviews and on the bedside examination.
  6. Select dysphagia management strategies that are tailored to the person's deficits, creating a management that includes all pillars of treatment.
  7. Apply patient-centered care options for eating/swallowing in order to reduce aspiration pneumonia risk in a curative focus or reduce discomfort in a palliative care focus.
  1. Causes and Impacts of Dysphagia
    1. Define dysphagia
    2. Causes of dysphagia
    3. Are you ready for a fun and fascinating field?
    4. The impact of dysphagia
    5. Health and nutritional impacts
    6. Aspiration pneumonia and pneumonitis
    7. Criteria for referral to speech-language pathology
  2. Dysphagia and Normal Swallowing
    1. Let's talk about bad design!
    2. Video examples of safety and efficiency swallowing problems
    3. Analyze the 4 interacting phases of the swallow in oursnack lab
    4. Muscles and cranial nerves
    5. Oral-sensorimotor exams based on cranial nerves
    6. Hands-on Lab
  3. Swallowing Evaluations and Instrumental Swallowing Assessments
    1. Clinical Bedside Swallowing Evaluation (CBSE)
      1. Chart reviews and case history forms
      2. What a thorough CBSE can reveal
      3. What a CBSE cannot reveal
      4. Lab: The art of the interview for a complete case history
    2. Instrumental exams: No "one" gold standard
      1. Why do an instrumental exam?
      2. General principles of the instrumental
      3. It is not all about the big-bad "A" word (Aspiration)
      4. It is not all about the bolus of food, liquid, or pill
      5. Why is the person having trouble swallowing and what can we do about it?
      6. Ask for therapy recommendations based on your patient's study
      7. Video Fluoroscopic Swallow Studies (VFSS, aka Modified Barium Swallow Study/ MBSS)
      8. Fiberoptic Endoscopic Evaluation of Swallowing (FEES)
      9. Referrals: Other tests by the deglutition team
      10. Range of "normal" for swallowing safety andefficiency
      11. Lab: Viewing videofluoroscopic swallow studies that correspond to the case histories shared earlier
      Hands-on Lab
  4. Dysphagia Treatment and Management: The Dysphagia Toolbox
    1. Pillars of dysphagia management
      1. Compensatory strategies: It's not all about the chintuck!
      2. Diet modifications: Are we just the diet police?
      3. Rehabilitation: Connecting exercises to specific deficits
      1. Collaboration with registered dietitian
        1. Sarcopenia, failure to thrive, frailty
      2. Collaboration with the entire team (e.g., RN, OT, PT, physicians/NPs/PAs) and making appropriate referrals (e.g., GI, ORL, neurologist)
      3. Diet modification lab
        1. International Dysphagia Diet Standardisation Initiative (IDDSI) framework for solids and liquids
        2. IDDSI food testing
        3. Play with your food
        1. Thickened liquids lab
          1. IDDSI flow test
          2. Compare starch-based to gum-basedthickeners
      Hands-on Lab
      1. Dysphagia and Stroke
        1. Importance of the nursing swallow screen
      2. Dysphagia Risks and Complications
        1. Does aspiration = pneumonia?
        2. Recipe for aspiration pneumonia
        3. Health-status model
        4. Ways to reduce the risk for aspiration pneumonia
        5. Patient-centered care
          1. Options and the safer diet
          2. Do we have to sacrifice quality of life?
          3. Water!
        6. Discussion lab on goals of care: Curative versus palliative (small group discussions)
          1. The Conversation; Palliative care & the SLP
          2. PEG tubes and dementia

Karen Sheffler, MS, CCC-SLP, BCS-S, has over 20 years of experience as a medical speech-language pathologist, specializing in dysphagia since 1995, when she graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She obtained her Board Certification as a Swallowing Specialist (BCS-S) in 2012. In 2014, she started SwallowStudy.com, which is a dysphagia resource for patients and professionals. Karen has worked in acute care, rehabilitation centers, skilled nursing facilities, and in home health care. She currently works at two different hospitals in the Boston area, owns her own dysphagia consulting business, and provides dysphagia expert services to companies and law firms. Karen also performs peer reviews for DysphagiaGrandRounds.com and the American Board of Swallowing and Swallowing Disorders (ABSSD).Believing in constant continuing education, she has been awarded the ASHA Award for Continuing Education 5 times. She is a member of ASHA's Special Interest Group 13, the National Foundation of Swallowing Disorders (NFOSD), and the Dysphagia Research Society (where she is a member of the Website, Communications and Public Relations Committee).


FINANCIAL: Karen Sheffler is compensated as a consultant and presenter for Hormel Health Labs, and she sits on a Hormel advisory council. She is compensated as an instructor by Summit and SpeechPathology.com/Continued.com. Karen has received or will receive an honorarium for presenting on IDDSI for Hormel, Becky Dorner Associates, and Martin Bros. Distributing Co, Inc. Karen Sheffler's website, SwallowStudy.com, has an affiliate relationships with Medbridge and CWI (which sells dysphagia products). She has performed paid peer reviews for MedBridge.

NONFINANCIAL: Karen Sheffler is the founder and developer of the website SwallowStudy.com. She is a member of the ASHA Special Interest Group 13 and the National Foundation of Swallowing Disorders (NFOSD). She is also a member of the Dysphagia Research Society. She has performed volunteer peer-reviewing for DysphagiaGrandRounds.com and for the American Board of Swallowing and Swallowing Disorders (ABSSD). She is an IDDSI Champion, promoting the International Dysphagia Diet Standardization Initiative since 2014.

Search your profession and state above to see CE for your selected course.

Content Level: Intermediate

ASHA CE Information

ASHA Continuing Education

Summit Professional Education

Intermediate Level

ASHA CE Provider approval and use of the Brand Block does not imply endorsement of course content, specific products or clinical procedures.

SATISFACTORY COMPLETION: Participants must register, pay tuition fee, sign in with a mobile device via scanning electronic QR code at workshop location, attend the entire workshop, complete an electronic evaluation, as well as any other required state-specific supplements (if applicable) and sign out with a mobile device via scanning electronic QR code in order to receive a certificate of completion. Participants not fulfilling these requirements will not receive a certificate. Failure to sign in or out and complete a course evaluation will result in forfeiture of credit for the entire workshop. No exceptions will be made. Partial credit is not available.

Scope of Practice: Workshop content is not intended for use by participants outside of the regulatory scope of practice of their license(s). You are responsible for knowing what lies within and without your professional scope of practice.

Online Workshops: Why Summit?

As a national leader in providing high quality live workshops for over a decade, Summit understands that your time and money are extremely valuable -- that you don't want to settle for Online Continuing Education that is poor quality, poorly delivered, or won't be accepted by state and national licensing boards.

With that as our foundation, we are proud to now offer Online Continuing Education courses that we believe set a new standard of high quality. Leveraging our exceptional teaching faculty that delivers thousands of live workshops each year (with an average customer satisfaction rating of 4.7 out of 5.0), we have now invested in creating the same exceptional Online course experience.

We deliver Online courses that are both high quality and easy to use:

We invest in high quality video production

  • Excellent sound, multiple cameras and camera angles
  • "You are there" tight coverage of lab exercises
  • Edited video content to focus on highest learning content

Our Online platform is state of the art

  • You can see video of the instructor and slides at the same time, plus also follow the course outline and download manual
  • You can stop, start, & pick up again at your convenience (up to 30 days)
  • We are mobile friendly, and also provide live telephone technical support, Monday - Friday 6AM to 6PM CST

Finally, we are so confident that you will like our Online courses, we provide a 100% satisfaction guarantee. Watch up to the first 30 minutes, and if you are not satisfied, you will receive a full refund. Must contact Summit within initial 30-day viewing period.

On-Demand: What to Expect

We want to make sure that you are 100% comfortable with what you are purchasing, so this is a rundown of the experience you should expect.

Here's what you can expect from our media player:

  • Watch high quality video of your instructor while also viewing the power point presentation
  • Compatibility with both Mac and PC
  • Mobile compatibility so you can watch on your phone or tablet

We have also built in multiple helpful links within the media player so you can:

  • Download the manual
  • Get technical support
  • FAQs to common questions
  • Launch your post test and obtain your certification

Media Player Details

This is what the media player will look like when you first launch the video:

Note: The video will automatically start playing once you open the player. It may be beneficial to pause the video at the beginning so you can get organized and optimize your experience.

Icons at the bottom

You will notice 4 Icons on the bottom of the player, this is what these tabs do:

  • Helpful details regarding the course, anything you need before starting, and how the video player works
  • This is where you can see the course outline and download your manual
  • FAQs on the most common questions to enhance your video experience
  • Where your post course test and certification will be located after you finish the video

Links in the top right hand corner

There are also 3 links in the upper right hand corner:

  • Support - Gives you the number to the technical support team for issues with the media player
  • Account - Takes you to your online profile, and is also where you log out of the media player
  • Logout - Takes you back to the Summit Professional Education website

Continuing Education Credit FAQs

How do I know if the workshop is approved or registered for CE credit for my profession and state?

We do the work upfront and when you select your profession and state, we only present courses that have CE approval or registration for that profession and state. You can also view the licensing approval or registration by profession on the Product page of any course (middle of page, far right tab of "CE Credit")

If you have further questions regarding your CE approval or registration, please contact Summit Customer Service M-F from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. CST at (800) 433-9570 or email ceinfo@summit-education.com.

Why aren't all online workshops approved or registered for my profession and state?

The approval or registration of online workshops varies by state and profession, and some licensing boards have longer approval or registration turnarounds than others.

How many credits do I receive for an online course?

Typically you will receive the same number of credits that you would get at a live workshop. Currently, all of our online workshops range from 1-6 credit hours (with some exceptions based on state and profession). You can view the licensing approval or registration by profession on the Product page (middle of page, far right tab of "CE Credit") where you can see the exact number of credit hours for each profession and state.

If you have further questions regarding CE credits, please contact Summit Customer Service M-F from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. CST at (800) 433-9570 or email customerservice@summit-education.com.

Does Summit report to CE broker? ASHA?

Yes. Once you complete your online course, post-course requirements, and the printing of your certificate, please follow the below steps.

For ASHA reporting an online course: Once you have met satisfactory completion requirements of the course, you will have access to a participant form via a "Report to ASHA" button in your account (next to the "Certificate Download" button). Simply select the "Report to ASHA" button, provide your ASHA member ID, and select "Submit". Please note, the "Report to ASHA" button will only be available in your account to submit your request for 10 days from the date you completed the online course after which Summit will be unable to report your completion to ASHA.

Online course completions are reported to ASHA following the below schedule:

  • Completions dated 1/1 - 3/31 will be reported to ASHA no later than 5/15
  • Completions dated 4/1 - 6/30 will be reported to ASHA no later than 8/14
  • Completions dated 7/1 - 9/30 will be reported to ASHA no later than 11/14
  • Completions dated 10/1 - 12/31 will be reported to ASHA no later than 2/14

Summit offers CE Broker reporting on behalf of FL PTs, OTs, SLPs and ATCs as well as for AL OTs, OH SLPs, SC PTs, OTs and SLPs. Licensees in states/professions outside of these listed should self-report at cebroker.com using the information provided on the certificate of completion. More information can be found here.

Online Course Content FAQs

Is an outline of the course content available before or during viewing?

You can see a course outline on the Product page under the Course Outline tab. After purchase, the course outline is also provided on the media player for watching the course.

How do I access the course manual?

Once you have purchased the course, there is a tab at the bottom of the media player where you can download the manual to save or print for your personal use.

Manual is located in the "Resources" tab

Are there labs in the course? What do I do if there are labs during the course?

Most of our courses have hands-on lab content, varying from minimal to significant. By looking at the Course Outline tab on the Product page, you can see how intensive the labs are for each course. During the lab section, we have invested heavily in providing very strong video content (i.e. very tight camera angles) so you can learn along with the live attendees. Depending on the course, you may want to simulate the activities that are presented in the course (which will be noted in the "Before You Start" section of the media player).

Where can I find who is teaching the course and his/her professional credentials?

You can see the instructor and their credentials on the product page under the Instructor Info tab

Online Video Experience

How long is the course?

Courses range in length from 1-6 hours. You can see the exact length of the course by visiting the course Product page.

Will I need any special materials to take the course?

After purchasing, the any special materials or specific advice is listed at the bottom of the "Course Info" tab.

Can I fast-forward or rewind through the online course?

Yes. For your convenience, you may fast-forward or rewind while watching the course. However, please note you will be required to certify you have watched the entire course to obtain CE credit.

Are there breaks? Can I press pause while watching the course?

There are no formal breaks in the video content. However, there is a pause feature to allow taking breaks at your own convenience.

Can I complete the course over several days? How much time do I have to finish the course?

Yes, you can always press pause or stop to take a break at your own convenience. Also, if you leave the course, please note where you left so you can pick up where you last finished. However, please remember you need to finish the course and pass your post course test within 30 days (non-subscribers) or before your subscription ends (subscribers).

Is the online course interactive? Will I be able to ask questions during the course?

The video that you will be watching is a recorded version of a live workshop. The video captures Instructor answers to participant questions, but there is no opportunity for you to ask questions with the instructor, real time. If you do have questions for the instructor, most instructors have their email address at the end of their presentations.

Am I able to re-watch the online courses even after I have completed the post course test and received my certificate?

Once you purchase the online workshop, you have 30 days to view the workshop as many times as you want as well as to review the manual (if you choose not to download while taking the course). For subscribers, your access is unlimited while your subscription is active.

Can I get a refund if I don't like the course?

We want your experience with Summit to be an enjoyable one. If you purchase an online workshop and don't like it for whatever reason, please stop within the first 30 minutes to receive a full refund. Then call us at (800) 433-9570 to talk with our customer service team to get your refund or a new online course.

Test & Certificate

Will I need to take a post course test? Why?

Yes, you are required to successfully pass the post course test to obtain CE credits and certification. This is required by our licensing boards for online courses.

What is the post course test like, what is a passing score, and how many times can I take it?

Post course tests consist of True/False and/or multiple choice questions. You will be able to retake the post course test as many time as necessary to receive a passing grade. A passing "grade" is 75% or higher for general content, 80% or higher for certain state specific workshops, like ethics, jurisprudence, and laws and rules courses. You will be able to retake the post course test as many times as necessary to receive a passing grade.

When will I receive my credits and certificate?

Once you complete your course evaluation and online test, you will be able to immediately download your certificate and request CE Broker or ASHA Reporting (if applicable).

Technical FAQs

What browsers and Operating system do I need to run for this to work properly?

The following are the supported browsers and Operating Systems for the media player to work properly:

  • Internet Explorer 11 or Microsoft Edge 44+ for Windows 10
  • Google Chrome 75.0+ for Windows, Mac OSX, or Linux
  • Mozilla Firefox 70.0+ for Windows, Mac OSX, or Linux
  • Safari 12.0+ for Mac OSX 10.13 and above

Will the media player work on both a Mac and PC?

Yes, the online courses will play on both a Mac and PC. The following are the supported browsers and Operating Systems for the media player to work properly:

  • Internet Explorer 11 or Microsoft Edge 44+ for Windows 10
  • Google Chrome 75.0+ for Windows, Mac OSX, or Linux
  • Mozilla Firefox 70.0+ for Windows, Mac OSX, or Linux
  • Safari 12.0+ for Mac OSX 10.13 and above

Can the workshops be played on my phone?

Yes! You are able to watch the workshops on your phone. Here are the technical requirements to ensure it works properly:

  • Safari on iOS 13+
  • Safari on iPadOS 13+
  • Chrome on Android 9.0+
  • Any running Android 9.0+

Are the videos downloadable or streaming?

All of the videos stream from the media player.

How does the streaming video work?

Live streaming video is content sent in compressed form over the Internet and displayed by the viewer in real time. With streaming video or streaming media, a Web user does not have to wait to download a file to play it. Instead, the media is sent in a continuous stream of data and is played as it arrives.

Will I experience any occasional buffering or freezing of the video?

Because of our streaming video approach, this rarely happens. If it does, it's typically because of customer internet access quality issues and we will provide troubleshooting tips as well as telephone support from our help desk.

Do you provide technical support?

Our help desk is available to assist you by phone Monday through Friday, 6AM to 6PM at (800) 433-9570.

Facility Details & Map

Front Desk Phone:

There may be a fee for parking on-property at this facility. Summit does not reimburse for venue parking fees. Alternative free and paid parking options may be available, please contact the venue for details.


Summit Subscription
"All Access"

Only $299.99

Subscribe Now


Buy this course for

Add to Cart

Course at a Glance

All our courses are available at a number of locations and at various dates. You can also take many of our courses online whether in video or text format. Below are all the available options for

  • There are no currently scheduled live options available for this course.

  • What Every Therapist Needs to Know About Dysphagia |6 Hour Course

    Add to Cart

  • Swallowing Evaluation and Assessments |2 Hour Course

    Add to Cart

  • Causes and Impacts of Dysphagia |1 Hour Course

    Add to Cart

  • There are no online text options available for this course.