Dr Michal Szczesniak – 2019 SSMRF Grant Recipient

Validation of SPECT/CT to assess airway clearance in chronic aspirators for a trial of Expiratory Muscle Strength Training (EMST) in reduction of radiation-related aspiration

Amount Funded: $35,730.00

Project Description: Aspiration pneumonia is the leading complication after chemoradiotherapy treatment for head and neck cancer and the most significant cause of non-cancer mortality in cancer survivors. The aim of the project is to develop methodology that can reliably measure patients’ ability to clear aspirate from the airways. Having a methodology that can reliably quantify aspirate and its clearance from the airways will be invaluable in any condition where aspiration is a factor, such as stroke, neurodegenerative diseases, reflux, lung disease, lung transplant viability and paediatric feeding disorders. Clinicians for the very first time will have a valid clinical tool to assess aspiration risk and focus resources on its prevention in the high-risk population as well as base clinical decisions on sound precise objective evidence. This first step is crucial to enable us to develop therapies such as Expiratory Muscle Strength Training (EMST) aiming to reduce radiotherapy-related aspiration.

Photo Note: Professor Ian Cook accepted the award on behalf of Dr Michal Szczesniak