The Gothenburg Throat

We all eat food and drink liquids several times a day. The mechanics of eating and the processing of food in the mouth are highly instinctive, leaving scope for the culinary experience and the pleasure of eating the meal.

However, as soon as one link in the chain fails the positive experience becomes a highly negative experience. Swallowing must be easy for everyone but especially so for people suffering from a swallowing disorder. Swallowing disorders affect 1.5% of the population and the number increases with age. In the 70+ group, 40% suffer from swallowing disorders caused by dementia, trauma or the side effects of medication. An aging population is one of the major challenges in today's world and swallowing disorders represent a growing problem.

In this multidisciplinary project, food scientists, engineers and doctors are involved in creating models of the swallowing tract as part of food product development. Clinical x-ray methods are used to characterise the swallowing tract and the effects of disorders and geometrical laboratory models are constructed based on the results.

The flow through these models is monitored using ultrasonics to yield the 3D flow field and flow patterns. Fluids that can distinguish between shear and extensional effects are developed and used in the experiments. In vitro models of increasing complexity are developed and validated by means of clinical trials.

The final aim is use of this knowledge by the food industry to determine applicability in food product development aimed specifically at what can be termed 'designed swallowing'.

 

 

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Mats Stading

Tel: 010-516 66 37

RISE Research Institutes of Sweden, Tel 010-516 50 00, E-post info@ri.se

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