Improve assessment and clinical management approaches for upper aerodigestive tract disorders to optimize functions of communication, swallowing and breathing, patient quality of life and survivorship.
Dr. Plowman and her team aim to accomplish this goal through the provision of patient-centric clinical care, education and innovative evidence-based research in both translational animal models and human clinical trials.
The Aerodigestive Research Core has three inter-related research areas of study that collectively target our mission to improve patient outcomes, quality of life and survivorship.
Focus 1: Increasing our understanding of the underlying mechanisms governing dysfunction of the aerodigestive tract. This includes increasing our understanding of disorders of the swallow, airway and speaking apparatus. Historically our team has focused on neuromuscular patient populations (ALS, OPMD, Myotonic Dystrophy, Inclusion Body Myositis). More recently we have expanded to include aerodigestive tract dysfunction as a result of cardiothoracic surgical procedures, lung transplantation, and congenital heart conditions and interventions.
Focus 2: Development and validation of minimally invasive, pragmatic, and sensitive swallowing screening tools. We have successfully completed internal validation of the Physiologic Risk Index of Swallowing Impairment (PRISIM) scale for detection of swallowing impairment in ALS. Currently we are adopting this tool for other outpatient clinical patient populations and developing nursing screening tools for the intensive care unit (ICU) hospital setting.
Focus 3: Develop interventions to maintain and/or improve the underlying bulbar mechanism and physiologic reserve of the upper aerodigestive tract. Specifically, we are investigating targeted therapeutic interventions on aerodigestive physiology, function, patient reported quality of life, economic burden and survival.