SLPs Patty Hauserman and Patrice Bezik smiling

Food for Thought: Proactive Awareness

Choking incidents are on the rise. Through August 2023, there has been a total of 8 choking-related MUIs investigated this year. These 8 Summit County MUIs involved 7 different individuals, all with no associated Neglects. We are on pace to have a slight increase in choking incidents as compared to 2022. We need your help to turn things around.

Photo of Summit DD SLP Patty Hauserman

Summit DD SLP, Patty Hauserman

To proactively address these incidents, Summit DD’s MUI Dept. has teamed up with Summit DD SLP, Patty Hauserman to provide an article each quarter that addresses concerns and offers support regarding choking risks for individuals.

Proactive Awareness

Did you know that the act of swallowing (from the time food or drink enters the mouth to when it arrives to the stomach) takes an average of 17-23 seconds?  Swallowing requires the coordination of 26 muscles to complete without difficulty.  The act requires the complex coordination of both voluntary and involuntary (reflexive) actions.  The essential elements of a swallow are:

  • Food and drink should move from the mouth to the stomach.
  • The airway should be protected when we swallow.

When there is an issue anywhere along the way from the mouth to the stomach, this can be a sign that there is a swallowing issue (Dysphagia). Caregivers are the first line of defense to spotting these beginning signs of dysphagia. If you notice a person showing difficulties during their swallow, please consult with their physician or a Speech-Language Pathologist. If you have any questions or serve an individual with eating, drinking or swallowing concerns, please feel free to contact either Patty Hauserman ( or Patrice Bezik ( for more guidance.

Fun Fact:

Humans are the only mammal that stops breathing while we swallow. But there is an exception: babies can breathe and swallow until about 8-9 months of age which allows them to nurse/drink from a bottle.

Stayed tuned for more “Food for Thought” in the next MUI newsletter.

For additional resources related to choking concerns and eating guidelines, please visit Summit DD’s Eat Safe information hub or speak with the SSA involved.

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