Effective swallowing is an essential part of life and is performed thousands of times per day, often without conscious consideration. Difficulty in swallowing (dysphagia) commonly arises in stroke patients following ischemia of the cerebral cortex. However, whereas this tends to resolve spontaneously in the majority of patients, a small percentage will be left with a persistent dysphagia, which predisposes to airway compromise and aspiration pneumonia. This article reviews the recent research into ways of restoring swallowing function in these patients through promoting plasticity and reorganisation of the remaining, viable cerebral cortex.
Keywords Dysphagia – Cerebral cortex – Plasticity – Rehabilitation – Deglutition – Deglutition disorders