by Towino Paramby  CScD, CCC-SLP, Veronica Rowe Ph.D., OTR/L, Nina Roofe Ph.D., RDN, LDN, and SLP Graduate Students Kirsten Kubinski, and Laura Jones

Graduate students at the University of Central Arkansas teamed up for a two-day collaboration focusing on interprofessional education (IPE) on September 16th and 19th of 2016. Interprofessional education is defined by two or more professions learning about, from and with each other to enable effective collaboration and improve health outcomes (WHO, 2010).  The speech-language pathology, occupational therapy, and dietetics programs came together for a combined lecture led by Dr. Towino Paramby, Dr. Veronica Rowe, and Dr. Nina Roofe.  The lecture emphasized the importance of interprofessional collaboration in the healthcare setting.  Topics covered included dysphagia, adaptive devices used for eating, specific modified diets, scope of practice, and interprofessional collaboration.  These three professions, when working together, can implement a successful treatment plan for the overall health of patients, often those of the geriatric population.   UCA pic

The second day of the interprofessional collaboration allowed students to work together in a hands-on learning experience through a two-part lab. Observations of hands-on learning have shown that students demonstrate strong communication tied to working in teams (Bass et al, 2011). Through this lab, students experienced the use of adaptive eating equipment, prepared and tasted thickened liquids, assisted feeding, and observed a linespread demonstration. The linespread is a quick and inexpensive viscosity test, which allows practitioners to compare the effect of a particular food or ingredient. This information is useful when thickening liquids to certain consistencies for safe swallowing. Adaptive equipment used for eating are helpful tools for promoting independence to patients with physical disabilities such as arthritis, stroke, Parkinson’s disease, poor vision, etc. The graduate students were assigned random case studies and were responsible for selecting the most appropriate adaptive equipment for their “patient”. Goggles and other devices were provided to simulate different impairments such asUCA Pic 2 decreased vision, strength, and poor fine motor coordination that are often found in the geriatric population. Students were able to assess how their selected pieces of adaptive equipment worked while simulating these common disabilities to gain further insight on the potential benefits of the equipment occupational therapists can provide for clients with a range of difficulties. On the left, speech-language pathology and occupational therapy graduate students work together on their case study.

The second part of the lab focused on the use of thickened liquids with patients affected by swallowing disorders, also known as dysphagia. Presbyphagia, which is swallowing difficulty associated with aging, is the second most common reported symptom in geriatric medicine (Charpied, 2009). Thickened liquids are often recommended by speech-language pathologists to patients as a way to adjust consistencies for easier swallowing. This lab allowed students to test both pre-thickened liquids as well as prepare their own liquids at varying consistencies. This lab not only gave students the opportunity to practice preparing thickened liquids, and modified diets, but mUCA Pic 3ore importantly, they gained first-hand experience which will allow them to better empathize with future patients. On the left, Dr. Paramby explains the use of thickened liquids to a group of graduate students.

Through this two-day collaboration, graduate students from three different fields of study expanded their knowledge of each profession’s scope of practice. More importantly, these students learned how interprofessional collaboration can result in the maximum benefit for a patient in the healthcare setting (WHO, 2010).




Bass, Kristin M., Danielle Yumol, and Julia Hazer. “The Effect of Raft Hands-on Activities on

Student Learning, Engagement, and 21st Century Skills.” RAFT Student Impact Study. Rockman et al, 2011. Web. 24 Jan 2012.

 Charpied, George. “Presbyphagia: Hidden Risk in the Geriatric Population.” American Speech-    Language Hearing Association (2009): 1-6. 2009. Web. 17 Oct. 2016.

World Health Organization (WHO). (2010). Framework for action on interprofessional education & collaborative practice. Geneva: World Health Organization. See http://whqlibdoc.who.int/hq/2010/WHO_HRH_HPN_10.3_eng.pdf.