Amrita Hospital, Kochi announces the launch of a revolutionary mobile application “SWALLO”, first time in India, designed to support individuals suffering from swallowing disorders (dysphagia).
The app was officially unveiled at the ongoing global conference called Dysphagia 2023 at the hospital. It offers interactive video-based therapy sessions with medical experts, allowing patients easy access to therapeutic interventions without the need for daily hospital visits.
In the first phase, SWALLO will be accessible to patients of Amrita Hospital. A subsequent public release will be available on app stores. The application also features live interactive sessions with doctors on appointment. So far, it is available in Malayalam with English subtitles and will eventually be released for all Indian languages.
Dysphagia is a challenging condition affecting the ability to swallow food and fluids across any age group. It is often caused by congenital or acquired diseases in children as well as cancer or neurological diseases in adults. Psychiatric factors and other reasons have also been reported among patients. Deglutology is the specialty that focuses on the management of dysphagia.
A deglutologist leads a team of experts from the fields of Head and Neck Surgery, Pediatrics, Oncology, Neurology, Geriatrics, and Nutrition and Diet for identification and treatment of swallowing and feeding disorders.
“While healthcare professionals traditionally provide tips for dysphagia recovery, many patients remain unaware of the benefits of therapy under professional supervision, leading to hindered recuperation. This groundbreaking app aims to enhance the lives of those living with dysphagia by providing valuable support and guidance by medical experts,” said Dr. Subramania Iyer, renowned plastic surgeon and Chair of the Amrita Swallow Centre, Amrita Hospital, Kochi. He is currently training the tenth batch of deglutology students at Amrita Medical College.
“SWALLO comes at a crucial time, as Amrita Swallow Centre has already provided support to over 3,000 dysphagia patients in 2023 alone. Amrita Hospital employs specialised therapy techniques along with fluoroscopy and endoscopy analysis to address swallowing issues.”
Dysphagia can be caused by various factors, including neurological conditions, structural abnormalities, post-surgical complications, and age-related changes. It can also be underdiagnosed, especially in older adults who may attribute swallowing difficulties to the aging process or other health issues. The treatment depends on the underlying cause and may include dietary modifications, swallowing exercises, medications, or surgical interventions.
SWALLO comes at a crucial time, as Amrita Swallow Centre has already provided support to over 3,000 dysphagia patients in 2023 alone.Dr. Subramania Iyer, renowned plastic surgeon and Chair of the Amrita Swallow Centre
Dr. Maneesha Vinodini Ramesh is Provost and Director of Amrita Centre for Wireless Networks & Applications (AWNA) at Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham. She highlighted how SWALLO is a game-changer for dysphagia patients, offering the necessary support to enhance their quality of life.
“Our highly experienced interdisciplinary software and AI team took on the challenge of addressing the difficulties faced by patients as briefed by our doctors at Amrita Hospital. SWALLO app enables patients to follow personalised rehab steps on their smartphones from home, receiving live feedback on exercise compliance and performance scores through its integrated AI system,’’ she explained.
Exercising at home may not always be effective, and frequent hospital visits are often impractical for patients with swallowing difficulties. The SWALLO app facilitates remote monitoring by therapists, ensuring effective guidance for dysphagia management. It addresses various causes, including cancer treatments and neurological issues, while also emphasising the vital role of nutrition in improving swallowing.
The user-friendly SWALLO app was developed by the Amrita University team, which includes Dr. Ramesh as well as Ramesh Guntha, Research Associate, and Dr. Rahul Krishnan, an Assistant Professor with AWNA. Dr. Subrahmanian Iyer led the clinical team with Dr. Krishnakuanr Thankappan, HoD, Head and Neck surgical oncology, and Arya CJ, Chief Deglutologist, Amrita Swallow Centre at Amrita Hospital.
As part of its commitment to unlocking the mysteries of dysphagia in oncology, pediatrics, and neurology disorders, Amrita Hospital is hosting a four-day international conference called “Dysphagia 2023.” The event is being organised in collaboration with the Amrita Swallow Centre under the Head and Neck Surgery and Oncology Department of Amrita Hospital.
It is the only centre in India where speech-language pathology graduates are trained under a structured training program with a university degree to become deglutologists. Founded a decade ago by Dr. Subramania Iyer and Prof. Jayakumar Menon, the Amrita Swallow Centre has produced more than 20 deglutology experts now serving various parts of the world.
Dysphagia 2023 has brought together experts and trainees from a wide range of medical disciplines, including Head and Neck Surgery, Pediatrics, Physiotherapy, Oncology, Geriatrics, Nutrition and Diet, Respiratory and Pulmonology, Intensive Care Teams, Psychology, Otolaryngology, Pharmacology, Nursing, Neuro/Neurosurgery, Speech Language Pathology, Gastroenterology, and Occupational Therapy.
Distinguished international and national faculty members are leading workshops on Video Fluoroscopy Swallowing Study (VFSS) and the Flexible Endoscopic Evaluation of Swallowing (FEES).