McNeill dysphagia therapy program: a case-control study

Giselle D. Carnaby-Mann, MPH, PhD, Michael A. Crary, PhD


To compare the effectiveness of the McNeill Dysphagia Therapy Program, a systematic exercise-based rehabilitation framework for swallowing remediation, with traditional swallowing therapy techniques paired with surface electromyography (sEMG) biofeedback.


Matched case-control study.


University medical center.


Dysphagic patients referred to an outpatient swallowing therapy service.


Cases were individually matched to 2 separate controls for age, sex, and primary medical diagnosis (N=24). Cases were patients with dysphagia who entered the McNeill Dysphagia Therapy Program from September 2006 to October 2008. Controls entered a traditional swallowing therapy program augmented with sEMG biofeedback (traditional therapy with biofeedback group) from February 1994 to June 1999.

Main Outcome Measures

The primary outcome was the proportion of patients who improved clinical swallowing ability and functional oral intake. The secondary outcomes were the presence (or not) of tube feeding, physiologic change on instrumental swallowing studies, and occurrence of aspiration on posttreatment assessment.


Case patients were more likely to demonstrate dysphagia recovery at posttreatment re-evaluation (adjusted odds ratio for dysphagia recovery=13.0 [95% CI, 1.27–63.89]; Mantel-Haenszel χ2=6.7; P=.009; relative risk reduction=.69). Dysphagia was reduced by 69% in the McNeill Dysphagia Therapy Program treatment group compared with the traditional therapy with biofeedback group.


Both approaches facilitated improved swallowing function. The McNeill Dysphagia Therapy Program resulted in superior outcomes compared with traditional dysphagia therapy supplemented with sEMG biofeedback.


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