The Airway Protection Scale (APS) is a 5-point scoring scale developed by SASS clinicians specifically for scoring larynx airway protection during a swallowing event using FEES. The basic premise for this scale was modeled after the scale used by Dziewas et al., 2008 in BMC Neurology. However, the APS incorporates the biomechanical actions of the larynx vestibule closing and collapsing during swallowing as a normal protective function, in addition to deeper vocal fold closure. The APS is an ordinal scale of severity much like the Penetration-Aspiration Scale used with MBS.
Airway Protection Scale (APS)©
1 – Airway protected by primary larynx reflex closure, seal, and squeeze.
2 – Material enters the laryngeal vestibule but is cleared out by (a) the initial motion of laryngeal airway closure & squeeze,(B) IMMEDIATE SWALLOW CLEARING or (C) reflexive throat clear or cough.
3 – Material enters the laryngeal vestibule but is NOT cleared out by (a) the initial motion of laryngeal airway closure & squeeze,(B) IMMEDIATE SWALLOW CLEARING or (C) reflexive throat clear or cough.
4 – Material passes below the plane of the true vocal folds into the trachea stimulating a reflexive response, i.e. (a) reflexive cough or throat clear, or (b) passive pressure changes such as exhalation, talking, sneezing, etc., and successfully clearing the aspirated material from the TRACHEAL airway.
5 – Material passes below the plane of the true vocal folds into the trachea stimulating a reflexive response that (a) does NOT clear the aspirated material from the tracheal airway, or (b) does NOT stimulate a protective reflex cough response.
To improve the sensitivity of analysis, diacritical markings are added:
“T” = very small, trace or droplet amounts entering either the laryngeal vestibule as penetrated material or aspirated into the trachea. Examples: 3T or 5T
“S” = Significant amounts of material entering the laryngeal vestibule as penetrated material, or aspirated into the trachea. Examples: 2S or 5S
“H” = High penetration – Material entering over the laryngeal rim and courses down but does not reach the superior surfaces of the ventricular folds. Example: 3HT
“D” = Deep penetration -Material entering over the laryngeal rim and courses down reaching the superior surfaces of the ventricular folds and even to the superior surfaces of the true vocal folds, but not aspirated.
Ashford, J. R., Ward, M. G., & Skelley, M. L. (in progress). Airway Protection Scale for FEES.
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©2022. Swallowing Services, PLLC. This scale may be used for clinical purposes only without written permission. Use for presentations, publications, video/audio, internet communication or demonstration, or research is not permitted without the written consent of SA Swallowing Services. Reliability studies are pending.