September 15, 2008

A Bill That’s Not Hard to Swallow

Within the coming weeks, the U.S. Senate is expected to accept a resolution for the establishment of a National Dysphagia Awareness Month. The measure, introduced by Tennessee Congressman Zach Wamp in July 2007, passed through the U.S. House of Representatives in June 2008 with bipartisan support and 54 co-sponsors. National Dysphagia Awareness Month is intended to call attention to a sorely neglected medical condition affecting 15 million Americans and will be designated to a specific month after the resolution has passed in the Senate.

Quick Facts About Dysphasia and Treatment

-- Dysphagia is defined as the difficulty or inability to swallow;

-- Caused by a neurological disorder or event (i.e. stroke, degenerative neurological diseases, head or neck cancer, Parkinson's);

-- Can lead to aspiration, pneumonia, choking, chronic malnutrition, severe life-threatening dehydration, an increased rate of infection, longer hospital stays, long-term institutional care and even death;

-- Treatments typically focus on the symptoms of the disease (i.e. starvation) with feeding tubes or special liquid-only diets, rather than the condition itself;

-- VitalStim Therapy is a non-invasive external electrical stimulation therapy that was cleared to market by the FDA in December 2002 for the treatment of dysphagia;

-- VitalStim is a portable, dual-channel electrotherapy system that is used with electrodes specifically designed for external application to the pharyngeal muscles of the throat to promote swallowing.

Available Spokespeople

-- Dr. Peter Belafsky, MD, PhD, MPH, Associate Professor and Director of the Center for Voice and Swallowing at the UC Davis, CA: Dr. Belafsky is a member of numerous associations, including the American Academy of Otolaryngology, the Dysphagia Research Society and College of Physicians of Philadelphia. An expert on dysphasia, Dr. Belafsky is one of the founding parents of the National Foundation of Swallowing Disorders. He has been published in over 100 journals and has lectured extensively both nationally and internationally on the topic of voice and swallowing.

-- Allison Hoffman, Lake Forest Hospital, IL: As a speech and language pathologist, Allison works primarily with stroke survivors, pneumonia patients as well as head and neck cancer patients. Allison can discuss the challenges associated with dysphagia, as well as different treatment options available for patients which she has found beneficial in her practice over the years.

-- Ron Hooker, Columbus, OH: At 80 years old, Ron's father Clarence suffered from dysphagia due to vent acquired pneumonia. Clarence survived seven months on a feeding tube, but with no end in sight, his family was preparing for his peaceful death. To Ron's amazement, after only two weeks receiving VitalStim Therapy, Clarence was eating normally and able to leave the nursing home.

-- Congressman Zach Wamp (R - TN): Can talk about the need to raise public awareness about dysphasia.

About Empi, Inc.

Headquartered in St. Paul, Minnesota, Empi is a leading manufacturer and provider of non-invasive medical products for pain management and physical rehabilitation. Empi is committed to delivering positive patient outcomes and providing innovative products specifically designed to meet the needs of the patient, medical professional, and payor. For additional information on the company, please visit Empi is a DJO company.

About DJO Incorporated

DJO is a leading global developer, manufacturer and distributor of high-quality medical devices that provide solutions for musculoskeletal health, vascular health and pain management. The Company's products address the continuum of patient care from injury prevention to rehabilitation after surgery, injury or from degenerative disease. Our products are used by orthopedic specialists, spine surgeons, primary care physicians, pain management specialists, physical therapists, podiatrists, chiropractors, athletic trainers and other healthcare professionals. In addition, many of the Company's medical devices and related accessories are used by athletes and patients for injury prevention and at-home physical therapy treatment. The Company's product lines include rigid and soft orthopedic bracing, hot and cold therapy, bone growth stimulators, vascular systems, electrical stimulators used for pain management and physical therapy products. The Company's surgical division offers a comprehensive suite of reconstructive joint products for the hip, knee and shoulder. DJO's products are marketed under the brands Aircast(R), DonJoy(R), ProCare(R), CMF(TM), Empi(R), Saunders(R), Chattanooga Group(TM), DJO Surgical, Cefar(R)-Compex(R) and Ormed(R). For additional information on the Company, please visit