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Rick McAdoo and his family
Rick McAdoo (center) and his family at the 2023 College Football Playoff National Championship of Texas Christian University vs. The University of Georgia on January 9.

Growing up in a small town in West Texas and with both parents being TCU alums, Rick McAdoo always knew he’d be a Horned Frog. But, after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in 1989 and his master’s degree in 1990, both in Speech-Language Pathology, he learned just how great the need truly was for therapy options for patients experiencing swallowing problems.

“Dysphagia therapy became my passion while working in the hospital,” explained McAdoo. “I think society takes for granted the social benefits of nutrition and hydration. Once you have a disease or condition that leaves you with the inability to protect your airway, it can be very frustrating and debilitating to not be able to eat or drink with your family and friends. As a clinician, I realized very quickly that these patients were counting on me to rehabilitate their condition back to normal.”

Leading On in Swallowing Therapy and Innovation

Rick McAdoo
Rick McAdoo. Photography by Bruce E. Maxwell.

Ampcare, LLC develops therapeutic neuromuscular electrical stimulation technologies. McAdoo was inspired by the inpatient rehabilitation methods he practiced while working at a hospital in North Texas. He realized the methods learned from Russ Campbell, physical therapist-turned-business partner, could be translated into the speech-language pathology realm.

Fast-forward almost 20 years, and the patented Ampcare Effective Swallowing Protocol (ESP) emerged. The non-invasive, Food and Drug Administration-cleared treatment for dysphagia combines the most effective electrical stimulation parameters with resistive exercises, resulting in improved muscle contraction and swallowing function quality. Patients use this system to help facilitate and exercise the muscles responsible for protecting the airway during swallowing.

McAdoo focused on stroke, head injury, and head and neck cancer patients. He wanted to raise awareness of and share a clinically superior therapy method that could help patients suffering from a problem that knows no boundaries. Today, medical speech-language pathologists are trained in using Ampcare’s ESP through its American Speech-Language-Hearing Association-accredited continuing education course. The speech-language pathologist (SLP) or the facility will purchase the system, and the SLP provides the therapy for patients via hospitals, home health and skilled nursing facilities internationally.

“What is unique about his business is that it was founded by three clinicians and not business owners or business degree-savvy people,” explained McAdoo. “It is built on our passion for helping others and the desire to keep therapy options affordable so more patients can benefit from the treatments.” McAdoo explained that he loves the freedom he has as a business owner and is assisted by Tech Fort Worth to help him, and Ampcare, grow. The ultimate goal is to eliminate gastrostomy tubes for people with swallowing problems.

A Lifetime of Care and Education

Taking advantage of the numerous real-life experiences through externships, McAdoo gained experience that led him to find his calling. McAdoo’s experience at TCU gave him the clinical knowledge to make a difference in patients’ lives. “Throughout my studies, I was taught the latest science and application of methods to treat speech, language and hearing conditions across the life span,” said McAdoo.

Fort Worth-based, Ampcare is also proud to partner with TCU through the speech-language pathology program in research projects and offers an opportunity for Ampcare Certification to graduate students in the program prior to their graduation each year.

“All of the faculty at the Davies School, Miller Speech & Hearing Clinic and the Dean of the Harris College, Dr. Chris Watts, have been instrumental in my career growth,” said McAdoo. “As a TCU graduate, this partnership will last a lifetime!”

Words of Wisdom

To all aspiring entrepreneurs in the health care industry, McAdoo says, “Follow your passion! I think that is what drives change in the industry.” Health care is something all of us will need at one point or another. He encourages you to create solutions and find the people to guide you on strategies to reach your market.

“One word: Plan! Two words: Fail Fast! And three words: Never Stop Learning.” He stressed that the easy times are more of a threat than the difficult times; be decisive and strategize, and don’t delay decisions; and reminded that while one may start wearing multiple hats, learning to delegate and finding the team is ultimately what will help you succeed.

Ampcare is spelled using the first initial of the first name of their children: Allysa, Maddie, Patrick, Caden, Adam and Erin. The ‘R’ represents the three founders, Ronda Polansky, a fellow speech-language pathologist, Russ Campbell, and of course, Rick.

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