Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, Maastricht University Medical Center, PO Box 5800, 6202 AZ, Maastricht, The Netherlands, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Surface electrical stimulation has been applied on a large scale to treat oropharyngeal dysphagia. Patients suffering from oropharyngeal dysphagia in the presence of Parkinson’s disease have been treated with surface electrical stimulation. Because of controversial reports on this treatment, a pilot study was set up. This study describes the effects of a single session of surface electrical stimulation using different electrode positions in ten patients with idiopathic Parkinson’s disease (median Hoehn and Yahr score: II) and oropharyngeal dysphagia compared to ten age- and gender-matched healthy control subjects during videofluoroscopy of swallowing. Three different electrode positions were applied in random order per subject. For each electrode position, the electrical current was respectively turned “on” and “off” in random order. Temporal, spatial, and visuoperceptual variables were scored by experienced raters who were blinded to the group, electrode position, and status (on/off) of the electrical current. Interrater and interrater reliabilities were calculated. Only a few significant effects of a single session of surface electrical stimulation using different electrode positions in dysphagic Parkinson patients could be observed in this study. Furthermore, significant results for temporal and spatial variables were found regardless of the status of the electrical current in both groups suggesting placebo effects. Following adjustment for electrical current status as well as electrode positions (both not significant, P > 0.05) in the statistical model, significant group differences between Parkinson patients and healthy control subjects emerged. Further studies are necessary to evaluate the potential therapeutic effect and mechanism of electrical stimulation in dysphagic patients with Parkinson’s disease.