Authors: Bengisu S, Demir N, Krespi Y
Title: Effectiveness of Conventional Dysphagia Therapy (CDT), Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation (NMES), and Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) in Acute Post-Stroke Dysphagia: A Comparative Evaluation
Source: Dysphagia 2024 39(1): 77-91
Year: 2024
Research Design: Randomised Controlled Trial
Rating Score: N/A
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This study aims to compare the effectiveness of conventional dysphagia therapy (CDT), neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES), and transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) in the treatment of post-stroke dysphagia. A single-blind randomized controlled trial was conducted with 40 acute stroke patients - 18 females and 22 males with a mean age of 65.8 +/- 11.9. The subjects were grouped into 4, with 10 individuals in each. The procedures administered to groups were as follows: the first group, sham tDCS and sham NMES; the second group, tDCS and sham NMES; the third group, NMES and sham tDCS; and the fourth group, all therapy procedures. CDT was applied to all groups either as a standalone procedure or combined with one or two of the instrumental techniques. Gugging Swallowing Screen (GUSS) and Videofluoroscopic Swallowing Study (VFSS) were employed to determine the severity of dysphagia and the effectiveness of treatment modalities. Additionally, the Penetration Aspiration Scale (PAS), Functional Oral Intake Scale (FOIS), and Dysphagia Severity Rating Scale (DSRS) were administered to interpret VFSS data. Pre- and post-treatment comparisons of all groups have revealed a statistically significant difference for all parameters except for the PAS scores at International Dysphagia Diet Standardization Initiative (IDDSI)-Level 4 consistencies. However, the differences between pre- and post-treatment scores of the fourth group across all parameters were significant - GUSS (p = 0.005), FOIS (p = 0.004), DSRS (p = 0.005), PAS IDDSI-4 (p = 0.027), PAS IDDSI-0 (p = 0.004). Inter-group comparisons, on the other hand, pointed out that the difference between pre- and post-treatment GUSS, FOIS, DSRS, and PAS scores at IDDSI Level-0 consistencies was statistically significant for all groups - GUSS (p = 0,009), FOIS (p = 0,004), DSRS (p = 0,002), PAS IDDSI-0 (p = 0,049). Closer examination of treatment groups indicated that the tDCS + CDT group, the NMES + CDT group, and the group that underwent the combination of three modalities made better progress than the one that was treated with only CDT. Though not statistically significant, the NMES + CDT group achieved better improvement than the tDCS + CDT group. This study has yielded that the group in which NMES, tDCS, and CDT were applied in combination has achieved better results than all the other groups. All treatment modalities applied to accelerate the general recovery process in acute stroke patients with dysphagia were found to be effective for the treatment of post-stroke swallowing disorders. The use of instrumental treatments such as NMES and tDCS enhanced the effectiveness of the treatment and provided more significant progress. Furthermore, combining treatment modalities such as NMES and tDCS was more effective when compared to using only conventional therapy. As a result, the most effective treatment outcomes were obtained by the group receiving CDT, NMES, and tDCS in combination. Therefore, the use of combined approaches has been recommended in appropriate patients; yet the provisional results should be tested in randomized trials with more participants.

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