Helping 18 million people with Dysphagia



Rich Hartel, Professor
Department of Food Science
UW-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
(608) 263-1965

Rich Hartel talks about the research that could help people with trouble swallowing.

3:00 – Total Time
0:16 – What dysphagia is who it affects
0:46 – Dysphagia fluid project
0:58 – Where the project stands
1:22 – What the fluid looks like
1:53 – What the fluid will look like in the market
2:07 – When to expect it on market
2:25 – What the drink is made out of
2:49 – Lead out

Rich Hartel talks on dysphasia fluids

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Sevie Kenyon: Rich, maybe you could describe for us what dysphagia is and what the problem is?

Rich Hartel: There are many reasons for people having difficulty swallowing, but the main problem, or one of the main problems with swallowing is when the timing of the swallow isn’t sequenced correctly, and some of the liquid goes down into the lung. When something goes down the wrong pipe. That’s what happens with people with dysphasia. There’s close to eighteen million adults that suffer from dysphagia. There are many more children that suffer from dysphagia.

Sevie Kenyon: Rich, tell us a little bit about this project you’re working on.

Rich Hartel: Well this is a USDA funded project, to evaluate thickened fluids for helping people with dysphagia.

Sevie Kenyon: And Rich, how long have you been working on this, and where is the project right now?

Rich Hartel: We’ve been working on this now for five or six years, and we’re at a point where we’ve got some prototypes that we’re getting ready to bring over to the medical school where they do the diagnoses. We’re in the stage now of evaluating whether those prototypes are well received by dysphagia patients or not.

Sevie Kenyon: And Rich, paint us a picture of what this fluid looks like.

Rich Hartel: Right now, it looks like water that’s thick (laughs). At this point we haven’t really worked too hard on the color and flavor. It’s gonna be a lemonade drink, at least to start, and so it will have some kind of lemony color. Just looks like a fluid that when you pour it, it just takes longer to pour than regular water. It’s not quite as thick as honey or maple syrup, but it’s getting up towards that in viscosity.

Sevie Kenyon: And Rich what will this look like out in the commercial market?

Rich Hartel: Well we envision this being sold something like a juice box, or some other type of container. So we’re not quite sure what that package is going to look like yet.

Sevie Kenyon: And when do you expect this to hit supermarket shelves?

Rich Hartel: We’re still doing the prototyping. Once that happens, then we have to find somebody that’s willing to manufacture it, and battle through all the startup types of issues. So, next year at the earliest would be when it would come out.

Sevie Kenyon: What is this fluid made out of?

Rich Hartel: So it’s primarily water. It’s sweetened a little bit with sugar, and then it’s thickened with some kind of gum. So, we’ve been playing with a number of different types of thickening materials, and have honed in on a couple that we think have the right thickness, rheological properties, and are well received by dysphagia people when they drink it.

Sevie Kenyon: We’ve been visiting with Rich Hartel, Department of Food Science, University of Wisconsin and the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, Madison, Wisconsin, and I am Sevie Kenyon.









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