A new technology is helping cancer patients swallow

The new tech tackles dysphagia in even its most extreme forms.
Loukia Papadopoulos
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True Angle's technology.

True Angle 

A new report by CBC News published on Sunday is revealing the introduction of a new type of technology that is helping cancer patients swallow.

The new innovation is from Edmonton company True Angle and is called Mobili-T, short for Mobile Therapist. It helps patients with dysphagia, the medical term for those who have difficulty with the act of eating and swallowing. 

Jana Rieger, CEO of True Angle, conceived of the idea while working as a clinician scientist helping patients who had head and neck cancer and as a result had trouble eating and swallowing.

"It's a very emotionally and physically taxing problem to have," Rieger told CBC News.

"It's terrible to hear, when you think about what food does for us as human beings, how much joy and pleasure it brings.”

The news outlet highlights the story of one patient who was greatly helped by Mobili-T.

A happy patient

David Jamieson struggled with dysphagia after he was diagnosed with head and neck cancer about two years ago and doctors cut an opening from his ear to his neck on the left side of his face in order to extract a three-centimeter tumor and other lymph nodes. 

The surgery removed what is called the base of the tongue which is located in the back of the throat and pushes down food. 

"Reactive swallowing for a human being is very complicated," Jamieson said. 

"It's not something confined just to the throat, it involves neck muscles, shoulder muscles."

"If a piece of food is too big, I choke and I have choked. And it's frightening," he said. 

The Mobili-T device helps with swallowing by sitting underneath the chin and using small sensors to monitor muscle activities in the throat.

"You could put it on any muscle in your body and it would sense that contraction, how hard it is, how long you're holding that contraction," said Rieger.

The device comes with an app that tracks the patient’s exercise targets and connects them with their clinicians. 

Jamieson told CBC News the app has served as a good motivator, encouraging him to work hard even when he wanted to give up. 

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