Mobile, Ala. (WKRG) – Many of you remember the 2014 ALS Ice Bucket Challenge that raised a bunch of money for ALS patients. While there is no cure for ALS, researchers at the University of South Alabama are working to help patients that have difficulty swallowing due to their ALS improve their quality of life.

Up to 85% of ALS patients have difficulty swallowing. This is called Dysphagia. Because of this, researcher Dr. Kendrea Garand is studying how breathing patterns link to swallowing issues and how exercising swallowing muscles can be beneficial for aiding in swallowing.

A person without ALS usually exhales, swallows and then continues to exhale, but a person with ALS might inhale, swallow, and then inhale again. The issue with inhaling when swallowing is if the person is ingesting food, it gets forced further into the system before it is supposed to and can block the patient’s airway. Dr. Garand’s research visually graphs patients with ALS’ breathing and swallowing and compares it to a person without ALS. This visualization helps the patient with ALS see how to correct their breathing pattern when swallowing.

Dr. Garand also is trying to find the line between too much exercise and too little exercise of the muscles in the neck used to swallow to benefit patients.

This research is really aimed at keeping ALS patients safe and improving their quality of life. Check out the video for more and visuals!