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Mechanical dysphagia

Dysphagia is another term for swallowing difficulties. There are many different types of dysphagia, including mechanical dysphagia. Mechanical dysphagia can also be known as oral-motor dysphagia. Mechanical dysphagia occurs when there is a problem with the movements of the muscles of the throat. This can cause difficulty in swallowing.

The Kids Feeding Team will work closely with a dysphagia trained speech and language therapist in order to diagnose and treat mechanical dysphagia.

What is mechanical dysphagia?

Mechanical dysphagia occurs when there is any swallowing difficulties caused by a problem in the movement of the muscles and nerves used to swallow. Difficulties in movements mainly occur in movements that are voluntary e.g. in the oral cavity but can also occur during involuntary movements e.g. in the pharynx (throat) and oesophagus (food pipe).

The Kids Feeding Team will work hard to ensure that these difficulties are minimised or reduced in order to help achieve a safe and effective swallow. We are able to assess, treat and monitor mechanical dysphagia and advise on how best to support your child's needs.

What causes mechanical dysphagia?

Mechanical dysphagia can occur at any age. Children can be born with oral-motor difficulties that cause swallowing problems or they may acquire this in later childhood development. Swallowing is a complex process that requires specific co-ordination and movement of lots of intricate muscles of the mouth and throat. Mechanical dysphagia can be caused by co-ordination difficulties in any of the intricate muscles and nerves used to swallow. This may be due to a number of things, including neurological conditions.

Jada on Saffron's lap

The Kids Feeding Team will work hard to assess the causes of mechanical dysphagia in each child in order to gain more understanding of the nature of your child’s problems. By identifying the underlying cause of the mechanical dysphagia we will be able to decide how best to help.

What problems caused by mechanical dysphagia can we help with?

Children that experience mechanical dysphagia may have the following problems that our team of dieticians, speech and language therapists, occupational therapists and physiotherapists can help minimise and support:

How can the Kids Feeding Team help a child with mechanical dysphagia?

The Kids Feeding Team will be able to provide many benefits to a child that experiences mechanical dysphagia. If left untreated mechanical dysphagia can potentially cause malnutrition, dehydration and pneumonia from aspiration. These side effects can cause many other complications, potentially life-threatening which our team can prevent. Through careful assessment and bespoke treatment options, we would aim to:

We make every effort to help and support for continued oral feeding as we know this is the preferred method. However, on occasions there may be indication for tube feeding if it is unsafe for a child to be fed orally. On most occasions, after being tube fed a child will be able to return to oral feeding once it is safe to do so.

Jada feeding herself lookint into camera

What would treatment for mechanical dysphagia involve?

Our multidisciplinary Kids Feeding Team will use various treatment options to support a child with mechanical dysphagia, this might include one or a number of:

How do I arrange an assessment for mechanical dysphagia?

If you would like to know more about the services we offer for mechanical dysphagia or to arrange an assessment with a member of our multidisciplinary Kids Feeding Team, do not hesitate to email or call 0161 820 8262.


Mechanical dysphagia occurs when children have difficulty with the complex movements of the muscles and nerves used to swallow. Mechanical dysphagia can occur at any time caused by the difficulty of co-ordinating the oral-motor movements. The Kids Feeding Team are able to identify the root mechanical cause of the swallowing problems and can help ensure a safe and effective swallow through different therapeutic strategies.

If you or your child experience any difficulties with swallowing and feel that you would benefit from seeing our Kids Feeding Team, email or call 0161 820 8262.

Make a referral

To refer a child to our services this can be done online, or by calling 0161 820 8262 or emailing office@kids

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