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research poster presenter OUR GOALS

Dr. Rosemary Martino and her research Team are finding new ways to identify swallowing problems (dysphagia) earlier and more accurately to reduce serious complications such as pneumonia, malnutrition, depression, and even death.


Swallowing problems (dysphagia), swallow pathophysiology, swallowing rehabilitation, clinical trials, measurement science, large database analysis, knowledge translation


People with swallowing disorders as a result of having a neurological disease (including stroke, Parkinson’s disease), cancer of the head and neck, or prolonged intubation.

swallowing patient MOD STUDY

Dr. Martino and the Swallowing Lab are developing a new test called the Medical Outcomes of Dysphagia (MOD). This work receives funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the Canadian Cancer Society Research Institute (CCSRI). It involves all patients, regardless of etiology, and includes those with stroke, Parkinson’s disease, cardiovascular disease, and head and neck cancer.

The MOD was conceptualized to describe medical outcomes related to dysphagia. The development of the MOD began with focus groups that explored the perspectives of patients, caregivers, and clinicians. Through these discussions, it was determined that the same three medical domains were most important for patients with dysphagia: pulmonary, nutritional, and psychological complications, thereby resulting in the three MOD test subscales – MOD-Pulmonary, MOD-Nutrition/Hydration, and MOD-Psychology.Dr. Martino’s lab is currently conducting psychometric validation of the MOD on a large sample of patients with dysphagia. Adult patients with any diagnosis are eligible to participate in this study. A roster of over 60 clinicians that span six health professions (Occupational Therapists, Physical Therapists, Registered Dietitians, Respiratory Therapists, Speech Language Pathologists, and a Medical Doctor) has received special training to administer the MOD test subscales to study participants. This study is being conducted at the University Health Network.


The TOR-BSST© is a screening tool that was developed by Dr. Martino and her team to assess for the presence of swallowing difficulties in patients with stroke early in the course of their disease. The premise of the TOR-BSST© is that earlier identification will initiate earlier intervention, and therefore, reduce the incidence of preventable complications of dysphagia such as pneumonia, malnutrition, and even death. Since its development, the TOR-BSST© has been validated in the stroke population, translated into 5 different languages, and implemented into clinical practice worldwide.


Across all of her research, Dr. Martino and her lab focus on initiatives that have a broad clinical impact and that will generate resources and knowledge to help clinicians of all disciplines. Most importantly, these resources will assist clinicians in establishing protocols to identify dysphagia early and to track the benefit of their interventions on medical complications. Early detection of dysphagia is critical to improve overall patient health, and also to ensure cost benefits to both the patient and health care system through improved interventions.