Arizona Chef Able To Swallow Again Due To A New Therapy Used To Treat Stroke Patients

Photo: Banner Health

55-year-old Michael John Coe of Prescott Valley never thought much about his ability to swallow until he was forced to re-learn this essential function after suffering three strokes recently. Coe, who works professionally as a chef and baker, was the second patient at Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix to benefit from a new therapy called pharyngeal electrical stimulation, or PES, which is delivered via the Phagenyx Neurostimulation System. Phagenyx helps patients with dysphagia, a common condition following stroke, to regain their swallowing function and ability to eat and drink.

Phagenyx PES therapy works by utilizing a specialized catheter with built-in electrodes that provide small electrical pulses to stimulate critical sensory nerves within the throat (pharynx), shown to reestablish communication between these nerves and the brain. The treatment lasts for ten minutes per day for at least three and up to six days.

Photo: Banner Health

Dr. Andrei Alexandrov, a vascular neurologist and chief of neurology at Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix, said patients like Coe are why this new treatment option is so important.

“This new therapy was not only crucial for Michael’s well-being, but for his career as a baker as well,” Dr. Alexandrov said. “The Phagenyx System allows us to offer much more efficient and effective care for these kinds of patients, resulting in better outcomes.”

The system was recently approved by the FDA, and the hospital is one of the first three facilities in the country currently using the therapy, which was developed by Phagenesis, Ltd.

Photo: Banner Health

“Partnering with world class pioneers in stroke therapy like Dr. Alexandrov and the entire care team at Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix is key to our strategy to expand Phagenyx therapy across the United States,” said Reinhard Krickl, CEO at Phagenesis. “We are honored to support Banner’s comprehensive stroke program, and we’re inspired to see outcomes like Michael’s. It’s why we do what we do.”

Coe was discharged after successfully completing five treatments and is back to eating normal foods again. His first meal? A grilled ham and cheese sandwich.

“I’m just blown away,” he said. “I feel back to normal psychologically — I’m not defeated, and I feel like I’m in control.”

To thank his medical team for the care he received, Coe recently returned to the hospital to deliver an abundance of his baked treats, along with a reminder that people should never take for granted their bodies’ critical functions like swallowing.

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