SA Swallowing Services, PLLC (615) 426-5505

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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, or (b) reflexive throat clear/cough with an immediate swallow clearing all material.

3 – Material enters the laryngeal vestibule but is NOT cleared out by: (the initial motion of laryngeal airway closure & squeeze, or (b) reflexive throat clear/cough with an immediate swallowing clearing all material.

4 – Material enters the laryngeal vestibule, passes below the plane of the true vocal folds into the trachea stimulating a reflexive cough successfully clearing the aspirated material from the TRACHEAL airway.

5 – Material enters the laryngeal vestibule, passes below the place of the true vocal folds into the trachea (a) stimulating a reflexive cough that 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 not reaching 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.

 

Developed by SA Swallowing Services, 2018, and may be used for clinical and research purposes.  Reliability studies are pending.