Authors: Carnaby-Mann GD, Crary MA
Title: Adjunctive neuromuscular electrical stimulation for treatment-refractory dysphagia
Source: Annals of Otology, Rhinology & Laryngology 2008 117(4): 279-287
Year: 2008
Research Design: Case Series

OBJECTIVES: Neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) has been proposed as an adjunctive modality for the treatment of swallowing disorders. We present data from a prospective case series to define and measure effects of a systematic therapy for chronic pharyngeal dysphagia using adjunctive NMES. METHODS: Six adult patients with pharyngeal dysphagia received 15 sessions of a standardized protocol of swallowing exercises with adjunctive NMES. The patients completed clinical and instrumental baseline, posttreatment, and 6-month follow-up evaluations. Outcome measures included the proportion of patients who improved in clinical swallowing ability, functional oral intake, and change in body weight; patient perception of swallowing ability; and changes in kinematic aspects of swallowing. RESULTS: Significant change was demonstrated for clinical swallowing ability (p < .042), functional oral intake (p < .02), weight gain (p < .026), and patient perception of swallowing ability (p < .043). Hyoid and laryngeal elevation during swallowing demonstrated bolus-specific patterns of change. No patient experienced a treatment-related or swallowing-related complication. Patients (4 of 5) who were followed out to 6 months after treatment maintained functional gains. CONCLUSIONS: A systematic therapy for chronic pharyngeal dysphagia using adjunctive NMES produced improvement in clinical swallowing ability and functional oral intake without significant weight loss or complications.

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