Currently, the anti-choke mug is still a prototype that has past the preliminary research stage and is being tested with a large number of real users
Thailand-based Chula Medicine has designed an anti-choke mug with calculated angle, amount, and time of water flow from the mug to the patient’s lips hoping to reduce choking that may lead to lung infection, bring peace of mind to caregivers, and make it safer for patients who will have a better quality of life.
Choking is a potentially life-threatening problem, especially when it comes to older adults suffering from neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases, etc. Choking in these patients can cause pneumonia, lung infections, sepsis, and eventually death, so it should not be overlooked by patients and caregivers.
“When patients with difficulty swallowing and are prone to choking come to see the doctor, the doctor would advise them to eat slowly, drink slowly, bend their neck, then swallow mindfully and practice their neck muscles regularly. This is easier said than done, as less than half of the patients can do this because we often eat and drink the way we’re used to, so much so that we run the risk of choking,” reflected Prof Roongroj Bhidayasiri, a neurology specialist, and head of the Excellence Center for Parkinson’s Disease & Related Disorders, King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital, Thai Red Cross Society.
“Since it is difficult for the elderly to modify their habits, we find other ways to help by studying normal drinking behaviour. The act of lifting our neck when the water touches our lips is used as a basis for the development of the remarkable “anti-choke mug.”
“Some elderly people have difficulty swallowing and are at so high risk of choking that the doctor is at the point of prescribing placement of feeding tube through the nose or the abdomen, but most Thai families are afraid of doing so and the argument is often about pitying the elderly. Yet, this pity brings a very high risk,” Prof Dr Roongroj explains.
“One of the problems for the elderly is incomplete swallowing, and there is some food residue remaining in the oral cavity. For example, a morsel of food normally contains both rice and some other food, which the elderly or patients may not be able to swallow completely at once. Doctors usually advise the caregiver to tell the patient to swallow again for the second and third times to completely swallow the food. Moreover, the caregiver must also check in the patient’s mouth every time to see if there is any remaining food that may cause the patient to choke later.”
Dr Roongroj explains the special features of the anti-choke mug, “This mug allows the elderly to drink without tilting their neck backwards. And in so doing the chance of choking is drastically reduced. Most importantly, this anti-choke mug can ensure the appropriate amount of water per drink, and duration of drinking to make it slow enough, and with the right volume, the right angle, the right drinking posture, and the right duration. These are things that will help reduce choking in the elderly and patients.”
Currently, the anti-choke mug is still a prototype that has past the preliminary research stage and is being tested with a large number of real users who are in-patients and outpatients who use the mugs in their daily lives. These mugs are fitted with sensors to monitor water drinking behaviour.