New therapy helps Arizona man re-learn how to swallow following simultaneous strokes

A chef from Prescott Valley is on the mend, after suffering three strokes all at the same time.

The strangest part for Michael John Coe following the stroke, however, was that he lost the ability to swallow.

Coe is a master baker, and it is safe to say he has his hands in a lot of pots.

So many, in fact, that it nearly killed him.

"I just thought it was my schedule," said Cole. "My workload, lifestyle."

After one too many migraines, Coe went to get an MRI, where he learned about his strokes 

Losing the ability to swallow is not good, especially for a chef.

"I couldn’t drink any liquid. I couldn’t eat any food. I could barely get down the saliva my mouth was producing," said Coe.

"So, you know how to swallow. It's in your brain, so when you have a stroke in that area, it affects your ability to swallow," said Clinical Nurse Specialist Brenda Tousley.

Banner University Hospital in Phoenix recently started using a new throat therapy, consisting of a special electronic catheter that stimulates the throat muscles as a way to re-train the brain. 

"What it does it kind of forces the patient to swallow," said Tousley.

After a few sessions, Coe was back in the kitchen. This time, however, he is putting life’s pressures on the back burner, and enjoying every bite, while remaining full of gratitude.

"I had taken my taste, my swallowing, my eating for granted," said Coe. "I'll never do that again."

The system was developed in Europe 10 years ago, but was approved by the FDA in 2022. Banner University Hospital in Phoenix is one of only three hospitals in the U.S. to use it.