Authors: Burns MI, Miller RM
Title: The effectiveness of Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation (NMES) in the treatment of pharyngeal dysphagia: A systematic review
Source: Journal of Medical Speech Language Pathology 2011 19(1): 13-24
Year: 2011
Research Design: Systematic Review

Dysphagia is a significant and costly health problem in the United States, with as many as 600,000 new cases diagnosed each year. Within the past decade, neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) has been introduced and adopted as a method of treatment for oral and pharyngeal dysphagia by speech-language pathologists. However, the effectiveness of NMES in the treatment of dysphagia has become controversial in the speech-language pathology community, and many third-party payers are not recognizing (and reimbursing) it as a "stand-alone" intervention for dysphagia. The purpose of this review is to examine the current research regarding the effectiveness of NMES on pharyngeal dysphagia. A systematic search of the literature yielded 14 studies that fit predetermined inclusion criteria for this review. Results indicated that although all reviewed studies suggested positive effects of NMES on pharyngeal dysphagia, the amount and quality of evidence was insufficient to substantiate the effectiveness of this intervention. In addition to critical analysis of the included studies, clinical implications for the use of NMES in the treatment of pharyngeal dysphagia as well as reimbursement by third-party payers are discussed. Suggestions for the focus of future research using this modality for pharyngeal dysphagia treatment are also summarized in this review.

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