Claire Langdon and David Blacker
Stroke Research and Treatment
Volume 2010 (2010), Article ID 57040
Dysphagia is extremely common following stroke, affecting 13%–94% of acute stroke sufferers. It is associated with respiratory complications, increased risk of aspiration pneumonia, nutritional compromise and dehydration, and detracts from quality of life. While many stroke survivors experience a rapid return to normal swallowing function, this does not always happen. Current dysphagia treatment in Australia focuses upon prevention of aspiration via diet and fluid modifications, compensatory manoeuvres and positional changes, and exercises to rehabilitate paretic muscles. This article discusses a newer adjunctive treatment modality, neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES), and reviews the available literature on its efficacy as a therapy for dysphagia with particular emphasis on its use as a treatment for dysphagia in stroke.
There is a good theoretical basis to support the use of NMES as an adjunctive therapy in dysphagia and there would appear to be a great need for further well-designed studies to accurately determine the safety and efficacy of this technique.