Laryngeal elevation achieved by neuromuscular stimulation at rest

Theresa A. BurnettEric A. MannSonia A. Cornell, and Christy L. Ludlow

Journal of Applied PhysiologyJanuary 1, 2003 vol. 94 no. 1128-134


During swallowing, airway protection is achieved in part by laryngeal elevation. Although multiple muscles are normally active during laryngeal elevation, neuromuscular stimulation of select muscles was evaluated to determine which single muscle or muscle pair best elevates the larynx and should be considered during future studies of neuromuscular stimulation in dysphagic patients. Hooked-wire monopolar electrodes were inserted into mylohyoid, thyrohyoid, and geniohyoid muscle regions in 15 healthy men selected for having a highly visible thyroid prominence for videotaping. During trials of single, bilateral, and combined muscle stimulations, thyroid prominence movements were video recorded, digitized, and normalized relative to elevation during a 2-ml water swallow. Individual muscle stimulation induced ∼30% of the elevation observed during a swallow and ∼50% of swallow velocity, whereas paired muscle stimulation resulted in ∼50% of the elevation and ∼80% of the velocity produced during a swallow. Paired muscle stimulation produced significantly greater elevation than single muscle stimulation and could assist with laryngeal elevation in dysphagic patients with reduced or delayed laryngeal elevation.

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