A medical device developed to treat dysphagia, a common swallowing disorder.

After a stroke, patients often develop dysphagia, a disorder that manifests itself in the loosening of the esophageal muscles. The loosening of these muscles causes the patient to have difficulty swallowing. Generally, the dysphagic patient will aspirate (inhale) liquids when swallowing—that is, s/he is more apt to have liquid go "down the wrong pipe" than non-dysphagic patients.

While the problem may seem like more of a nuisance than a disorder, patients suffering from chronic dysphagia continue to aspirate almost every time they drink something, allowing more and more liquid to become trapped in their lungs. Usually this moisture in the lungs will trigger an infection such as pneumonia, which can complicate matters greatly for the recovering stroke victim.

Studies on dysphagia have shown that if the patient is takes smaller sips when drinking, s/he is less likely to aspirate, but left to their own devices, stroke victims (many of whom have lost some of their motor skills) often have trouble regulating the amount they drink. This is where the Provale Cup comes into play.

The Provale Cup is a limited-flow drinking cup that delivers a fixed amount (5cc) of liquid each time the patient takes a drink. The blue, plastic cups have a broad base to prevent spilling and come complete with two large handles/grips on either side so patients with poor motor coordination can easily grasp and use the product. They are reusable and dishwasher safe.

Developed by Reliant Medical Products (a Birmingham, Alabama firm), the Provale Cup was introduced August 5, 2002, and is available for purchase online at Reliant Medical's website (http://www.reliantmp.com). The device retails through the website for about US$40, though interested parties should check with a healthcare provider, as their insurance policy might cover part of the cost.

1. http://www.reliantmp.com/templates/cusreliant/details.asp?id=21943&PID=48749
2. http://www.reliantmp.com/templates/cusreliant/default.asp?id=21943

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