Joe Zumbrum is a cancer survivor from Emporia.  He was diagnosed 20 years ago with tonsil cancer, but it’s still affecting his speech and ability to swallow today. 

“I had to have 35 treatments of radiation.  And then from there over a progression of years it got to where I couldn’t swallow,” says Zumbrum.  

Veronica DeSelms, a Speech Language Pathologist from Newman Regional Health explains, “when you’re going through chemotherapy and radiation you obtain fibrotic tissue, which is like cement. It really makes those muscles tighten up.” 

Joe was at the point of needing a feeding tube, when he was introduced to Myofacial Release Treatment. 

“Teaching strategies to relax. Learning breathing exercises. Stretching out those muscles,” explains DeSelms. 

Veronica applies gentle, continuous pressure to the damaged tissue around Joe’s face and neck, based on Joe’s tolerance and perception.  The treatment is making all the different for Joe today. 

“The Myofacial Release has really improved even his head range of motion, how much he’s able to turn his neck. It’s not cured, it’s not to the point where he’s 100% but he’s at the point where he is not going to need a feeding tube,” says DeSelms. 

Joe can now swallow more easily, is gaining weight, and is finally enjoying some of this favorite foods again!

“Mash potatoes and gravy! I love them!” says Zumbrum. 

After several decades of suffering and debilitation, the treatment is helping Joe get his quality of life back.

“I was pretty depressed and I am not depressed at all anymore.  I am looking forward, I have a new grand baby who’s 3 months old and I am looking forward to spending a lot of time with her,” says Zumbrum.   

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