Electrical Stimulation of the Suprahyoid Muscles in Brain-injured Patients with Dysphagia: A Pilot Study.

Beom J, Kim SJ, Han TR.

Ann Rehabil Med. 2011 Jun;35(3):322-7. Epub 2011 Jun 30.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To investigate the therapeutic effects of repetitive electrical stimulation of the suprahyoid muscles in brain-injured patients with dysphagia.

METHOD:

Twenty-eight brain-injured patients who showed reduced laryngeal elevation and supraglottic penetration or subglottic aspiration during a videofluoroscopic swallowing study (VFSS) were selected. The patients received either conventional dysphagia management (CDM) or CDM with repetitive electrical stimulation of the suprahyoid muscles (ESSM) for 4 weeks. The videofluoroscopic dysphagia scale (VDS) using the VFSS and American Speech-Language-Hearing Association National Outcome Measurement System (ASHA NOMS) swallowing scale (ASHA level) was used to determine swallowing function before and after treatment.

RESULTS:

VDS scores decreased from 29.8 to 17.9 in the ESSM group, and from 29.2 to 16.6 in the CDM group. However, there was no significant difference between the groups (p=0.796). Six patients (85.7%) in the ESSM group and 14 patients (66.7%) in the CDM group showed improvement according to the ASHA level with no significant difference between the ESSM and CDM groups (p=0.633).

CONCLUSION:

Although repetitive neuromuscular electrical stimulation of the suprahyoid muscles did not further improve the swallowing function of dysphagia patients with reduced laryngeal elevation, more patients in the ESSM group showed improvement in the ASHA level than those in the CDM group. Further studies with concurrent controls and a larger sample group are required to fully establish the effects of repetitive neuromuscular electrical stimulation of the suprahyoid muscles in dysphagia patients.

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