Seven institutions participated in this small clinical trial that included 19 patients who exhibited oropharyngeal dysphagia on videofluorography (VFG) involving the upper esophageal sphincter (UES) and who had a 3-month history of aspiration. All patients were randomized to either traditional swallowing therapy or the Shaker exercise for 6 weeks. Each patient received a modified barium swallow pre- and post-therapy, including two swallows each of 3 ml and 5 ml liquid barium and 3 ml barium pudding. Each videofluorographic study was sent to a central laboratory and digitized in order to measure hyoid and larynx movement as well as UES opening. Fourteen patients received both pre-and post-therapy VFG studies. There was significantly less aspiration post-therapy in patients in the Shaker group. Residue in the various oral and pharyngeal locations did not differ between the groups. With traditional therapy, there were several significant increases from pre- to post-therapy, including superior laryngeal movement and superior hyoid movement on 3-ml pudding swallows and anterior laryngeal movement on 3-ml liquid boluses, indicating significant improvement in swallowing physiology. After both types of therapy there is a significant increase in UES opening width on 3-ml paste swallows.
Keywords Dysphagia – Shaker exercise – Upper esophageal sphincter – Deglutition – Deglutition disorders