The Human Behind the Dysphagia: A Holistic Approach for Head and Neck Cancer Patients

From educating restaurant staff to bringing recipes to support groups, it’s important to humanize dysphagia care. 

And when it comes to fostering that approach with the head and neck cancer population, Theresa Yao, SLPD, MEd, MS, CCC-SLP will be the first to speak up!

Tune into this week’s episode of the Swallow Your Pride Podcast podcast to explore a holistic approach to managing dysphagia. Going beyond the bedside, Theresa shares the importance of considering personal factors, environment, and social participation alongside the swallowing impairment itself. 

What does it mean to create a dysphagia-friendly community? How can you advocate for it? What extra steps can you take to help your patients with head and neck cancer – or dysphagia in general – feel more empowered? 

Grab your notepad and prepare to get inspired. You won’t want to miss this!


Theresa Yao's background (00:01:21)
The journey to voice and swallowing disorders (00:02:05)
The importance of a whole-person approach (00:05:51)
The whole person approach to dysphagia (00:06:51)
Viewing patients as whole persons (00:08:51)
The impact of dysphagia on social interactions (00:10:13)
Involving patients in treatment planning (00:12:14)
Creating dysphagia-friendly environments (00:15:58)
The role of support groups in dysphagia management (00:17:55)
The support group and patient empowerment (00:18:44)
Support group advocacy and volunteer efforts (00:20:50)
Community outreach and resources (00:21:57)
Benefits of support groups for clinicians (00:25:14)
Community engagement and awareness (00:27:06)
Multidisciplinary team approach (00:28:28)
Patient-reported outcome measures and quality of life assessment (00:30:44)
Whole person approach and qualitative research (00:33:29)

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