“Westside’s therapists treat my daughter as if she was their own. It is heartwarming and reassuring that my daughter is getting the best care. It is amazing how far my daughter has come to meet milestones, and I have to thank Westside for getting her there.”
– The Mezydlow Family

What is VitalStim?

VitalStim, also known as neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES), is used to treat both the pediatric and adult population with dysphagia/swallowing disorders. A uniquely certified speech-language pathologist administers NMES in conjunction with oral motor, swallowing, and feeding therapeutic activities in order to improve the swallow function. It is a non-invasive, external electrical stimulation therapy approved by the Food and Drug Administration. 

How does VitalStim Work?

Neuromuscular electrical stimulation involves the administration of small, electrical impulses to the swallowing muscles in the throat through electrodes attached to the skin overlying the musculature. Once electrodes are placed and current has been increased to the appropriate level, the therapist begins traditional oral motor, feeding, and swallowing exercises with the patient.  The patient exercises the swallowing muscles for periods of up to one hour while receiving concurrent VitalStim therapy.

 VitalStim Therapy Sessions

  • To be most effective, the recommendation is a minimum of 1-hour sessions 3-5 times per week
  • Each session begins by placing electrodes on a child’s neck, and sometimes their cheeks. The child may feel a slight  “pins and needles” sensation. As the input is increased, the sensation feels more like “tugging and pulling.” Most children tolerate the therapy with little difficulty. Every attempt is made to make the child as comfortable as possible.
  • Parents are encouraged to be actively involved in the sessions
  • It is important that the child is hungry during sessions because they will be encouraged to eat/swallow
  • Clinical observations and modified barium swallow studies are used to track the child’s progress
  • A Modified Barium Swallow (MBS) study may be used during the initial evaluation to assess patient’s needs and how VitalStim can help
  • A bedside swallow evaluation may be recommended as well to determine what oral motor, feeding, and swallowing techniques should be implemented in conjunction with VitalStim therapy

In VitalStim therapy, we never forget that a kid is a kid by ensuring therapy is fun, safe, and inviting. Our expectation: life-changing results.

Children Who May Benefit

  • Children of all ages may benefit, especially:
    • A child who has oral/pharyngeal dysphagia
    • A child who may be tube-dependent for all nutrition
    • A child who has experienced:
      • Stroke
      • Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
      • Laryngomalacia
      • Spinal Muscular Atrophy
      • Cerebral palsy
      • Cleft Lip and Palate
      • Down Syndrome
      • Prader-Willi Syndrome
      • Failure to Thrive
      • Bell’s palsy


  • Improved Swallow Functioning
  • Increased Muscle Strength 
  • Accelerated Cortical Organization
  • Increased Effectiveness in Swallowing Therapy Exercises

Westside Way Spotlight

Why Westside is the Preferred Provider

Strong Clinical Leadership

Westside’s Clinical Directors train and supervise therapists to ensure quality.

Distinct, Family-Centered Approach

Our therapists have warm personalities that foster strong relationships with families.

Facilities That Kids Dreams Of

Ziplines, jumping ledges, ball pits, trampolines, and rock walls make kids forget they’re in therapy.

Multiple Disciplines And Perspectives

6 disciplines in each clinic enable collaboration across specialists to meet your child’s needs.

Clinics Designed for Quality Therapy

Private rooms for quiet sessions, feeding therapy rooms, and open gyms for socialization

Impressively Talented Therapists

Competitive hiring process and high-performance standards – you’ll find only warm, friendly, and talented therapists.

Getting Started With VitalStim Therapy

If you are interested in VitalStim Therapy,  submit an inquiry using the button below. Our Patient Coordinator will call within 1-2 business days to help you determine a plan that works best for you.  If you are still unsure, you can:

  • Submit a request for our Patient Coordinator to talk to you about a free, 30-minute screening
  • View our developmental checklist
  • Ask a question using the “Leave a Message” feature in the bottom-right corner of your screen
  • Call us anytime at (815) 469-1500 for more information