The Discrete Swallow Initiative: Advancing Pre-Feeding Skills in the Medically Fragile Infant

April 13, 2022 12:15 pm

Presentation Summary

This lightning talk will consists of education about the discrete swallow protocol in the NICU and its use to establish functional feeding skills with safe, supported, experience-based opportunities to learn suck-swallow-breath coordination. Presenters will discuss a quality improvement project aimed at defining the population to assist their unit in advocating for supportive pre-feeding practices.

Learning Objective

Participants will identify and summarize the purpose and method of the discrete swallow initiative to be used with the medically fragile infant.


  • Emily Rocha

    Emily Rocha OTD, OTR/L, CSRS

    Emily Rocha is an occupational therapist. She graduated with her doctorate in May 2022 from Northern Arizona University, Phoenix Biomedical Campus. She was first introduced to the profession through working with kids with special needs, seeing the positive impact it had on the children and their families. After exploring the career further, Emily realized how much it was for her. Her goal is to help people increase quality of life and be able to pursue their passions. She completed her capstone in the NICU, focusing on feeding and swallowing, following a discrete swallow protocol created by her mentor Cuyler Romeo. Emily now works with both babies and adults in the hospital setting. Aside from work, she likes to work out, swim, shop, watch movies, and be with friends and family.

    Financial Disclosures: Emily is a Doctoral Capstone Student OT at Honor Health Hospital Shea Adult & NIC.

    Non-financial Disclosures: None.

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  • Cuyler Romeo

    Cuyler Romeo MOT, OTR/L, SCFES, IBCLC

    Cuyler Romeo has developed a broad clinical understanding of the needs of families and children by serving as an Occupational Therapist and industry expert in pediatric feeding disorder for over 20 years. As the Director of Strategic Initiatives at Feeding Matters, she assists in developing and executing a strategic plan to bring about system wide change for families struggling with pediatric feeding disorder. She utilizes her clinical understanding and leadership expertise to collaborate with constituents in identifying, tracking, and assessing innovative solutions to system problems. Cuyler also has extensive experience facilitating strategic partnerships and aligning diverse groups of people under a common goal. She designed and executed a state-wide multi-disciplinary mentorship program, launched a Community of Practice within the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) and advanced professional development through her position on AOTA’s Commission on Continuing Competence and Professional Development (CCCPD). Prior to joining Feeding Matters, she served as a founding partner of a feeding specialty clinic, Mealtime Connections, and rectified system issues on a broader scale as the Director of Clinical Innovation at Therapy 2000. She also treats clinically as a feeding specialist at Banner University Medical Center-Tucson in a Level 3 NICU and speaks professionally.

    Financial Disclosures: Receives a salary from Feeding Matters. Receives hourly compensation from Banner University Medical Center Tucson.

    Non-financial Disclosures: Cuyler Romeo facilitates AOTA’s Mealtime Occupation: Feeding, Eating and Swallowing Community of Practice and is an appointed member of the Commission for Continued Competence and Professional Development (CCCPD). She serves on the Board of Directors for the Institute of Perception-Action Approach and is a member of the National Perinatal Association’s Interdisciplinary Workgroup and Dissemination Committee. She is a member of AOTA, ArizOTA, and IAPFS.

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