According to the Stroke Association, around 40% of stroke survivors will experience swallowing difficulties shortly after they’ve had a stroke. Fortunately, for many stroke survivors this improves over time.
How does a stroke affect swallowing?
After a stroke, the parts of the brain that control swallowing can be affected, which can make eating a normal meal or drinking liquids challenging.
It also creates a risk of choking on food, or of liquid and food going into the lungs instead of the stomach, increasing the risk of chest infections and pneumonia. Not being able to eat or drink properly results in weight loss, and even malnutrition and dehydration if not addressed early enough.
Ensuring a stroke survivor can eat well and gets the right nutrition is an important part of their recovery and prevents secondary illnesses.
Part of the stroke recovery process will be eating foods that help with the rehabilitation. A stroke survivor may start on a Shaped Puréed meal, then progress onto a Soft meal and then Extra Tender meals before moving on to eating an everyday meal again.
As part of a stroke recovery plan, you will be assigned a team of Healthcare Professionals who will assess your needs and help to manage your swallowing difficulties. This team would include a doctor, Speech and Language Therapist and dietitian. They will work with you to ensure you can eat and swallow safely as you recover, as well as ensuring you eat the right foods and have the right level of nutrition.
You can find out more about swallowing difficulties after a stroke from the Stroke Association
Helen worked in the NHS for over seven years, and has been very impressed by the soft foods range at Wiltshire Farm Foods, in particular the moulded meals which are incredible and are a real breakthrough for Wiltshire Farm Foods.
Helen Willis BSc RD Wiltshire Farm Foods Dietitian