Dr. Martino was one of 21 recipients of new and renewed Canada Research Chairs at the University of Toronto this year. Total estimated funding for the chairs is $19 million. Dr. Martino’s Canada Research Chair (Tier 2) in Swallowing Disorders was first awarded in 2013 and helps to fund her research program, which focuses on understanding swallowing impairment (dysphagia) and its impact on the patient. Her aim is to conduct research that will assist clinicians in providing the best possible care to their patients and that will ultimately help reduce the burden of dysphagia for patients, their caregivers and the community.
For full details about this year’s Canada Research Chair recipients from the University of Toronto, please click here.
Victoria Sherman, a third year doctoral student, recently published the first systematic review on dysphagia following stroke in children. This review highlighted that, although limited data is available, dysphagia commonly occurs after childhood stroke, with reported frequencies from 24.2% to 88.6%. There is very little known on dysphagia-related health outcomes and caregiver burden, and no standardized tool available to identify dysphagia early following stroke in children. This review was the first study from Victoria’s dissertation research, and she is excited to continue her studies on dysphagia in children after stroke.
Elissa Greco (PhD student) conducted a systematic review on dysphagia treatment for patients with head and neck cancer treated with radiotherapy. Through meta-analysis, she found that behavioural dysphagia intervention is beneficial to measures of swallow function and physiology, regardless of intervention start time. This study was the first to pool data from several randomized controlled trials and observational studies to determine the overall benefit from active dysphagia intervention. This study is now published in a high impact journal (International Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics).
Victoria Sherman, in the second year of her doctoral program, received the prestigious multi-year SickKids Clinician Scientist Training Program (CSTP) award (2017-2021). This scholarship is awarded yearly to only a few select students whose proposed research is based at SickKids and is judged as scientifically meritorious. As a recipient of this award, Victoria will participate in monthly seminars, attend annual national meetings, and have opportunities to meet and collaborate with other Canadian paediatric clinician researchers from a variety professions.
In April, Dr. Rosemary Martino had the honour of being a judge in George Brown College’s “Top Chef Challenge: Dysphagia”. This annual event, which takes place at the waterfront campus, involves teams made up of Culinary Arts students and staff from Baycrest, who compete to prepare a meal that is suitable for individuals with swallowing difficulties. The meal also has to be nutritionally balanced, aesthetically pleasing, and most importantly delicious. For more information about this event, please follow this link.
(Photography by Alexa Fernando – www.ajfernando.com)
In recent months, the Swallowing Lab team has been busy building bridges to sustain and promote dysphagia research and patient care throughout the continent. To that end, the lab eagerly accepted the opportunity to present its work at the ninth international conference of the American Head and Neck Society (ANHS). Held over five days in mid-July, the annual conference was designed to enable multidisciplinary collaborations amongst member clinicians in the pursuit of new mechanisms for head and neck cancer identification, treatments, and measurement of outcomes and quality of care.
Dr. Rosemary Martino was invited to both moderate and present in the members’ education series on the innovative research of the Swallowing Lab. Spanning clinical Speech Language Pathology care and head and neck cancer treatment, Dr. Martino’s session brought the audience of Head and Neck clinicians and researchers up to date on promising new dysphagia interventions targeting patient swallowing related issues. Dr. Martino also discussed some of the lab’s most recent work which examined the relationship between measures of objective swallowing physiology and observer-rated toxicities, function and Quality of Life (QoL). The findings show that patient reported outcomes alone are not sufficiently accurate in detecting changes in swallow physiology. The study provided clear support for the idea that accurate and comprehensive assessments also require objective clinical testing completed by a skilled clinician. The lab envisions this fresh research will further contribute to the field by facilitating better understanding of patient perception of the severity of their issues in relation to clinical evaluations.
As the single largest organization in North America for the advancement of research and education in head and neck oncology, Dr. Martino was pleased to be able to present at the AHNS’s 2016 conference, and looks forward to future opportunities to share the Swallowing Lab’s trailblazing research.