Ampcare Effective Swallowing Programme (ESP) – a new treatment to help restore safe swallowing function

This exciting new treatment combines electrical stimulation with specially selected exercises to help rehabilitate swallow function to help patients return to eating and drinking.

Devices for Dignity have helped lead the first clinical trial in the UK of this treatment.

Project Lead and Organisation

Professor Sue Pownall, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Clinical Requirement

Many patients have swallowing difficulties, for example as a result of stroke, cancer, dementia or progressive neurological disease.  These difficulties can result in patients being at risk of choking, chest infections and pneumonia as food and drink can enter their airway when they try to swallow.

Patients who have severe swallowing difficulties often have to be fed via a tube (up the nose or through the stomach wall).

The Solution

The Ampcare Effective Swallowing Programme was developed in the United States by a team of expert physiotherapists and speech and language therapists.  Devices for Dignity helped with the CE marking process for the novel neck brace and electrodes used in the treatment programme.  We also helped fund and carry out a clinical pilot randomised controlled trial in three UK sites, the results of which were very promising.  In addition to the pilot trial, we have also supported the launch and clinical training for users of this CE-marked device.   We now intend to progress towards a larger scale trial and to bring this new treatment into routine clinical practice in the UK, making it available to patients via the NHS.


Patients who received the new treatment were very positive about it:

“I feel better at swallowing – no problems swallowing at all now”

“I thought the treatment was very good and I would recommend it to anybody”

“I’ve enjoyed taking part, it’s given me a positive feeling about my swallow”


We gratefully acknowledge funding for the pilot study from: Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust; Ampcare LLC; NIHR Devices for Dignity HTC; Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research (South Yorkshire) and Royal College of Nursing (Lady Foley Award).