“Pharyngocise”: randomized controlled trial of preventative exercises to maintain muscle structure and swallowing function during head-and-neck chemoradiotherapy

Carnaby-Mann G; Crary MA; Schmalfuss I; Amdur R

Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys;83(1):210-9, 2012 May 1.

PURPOSE: Dysphagia after chemoradiotherapy is common. The present randomized clinical trial studied the effectiveness of preventative behavioral intervention for dysphagia compared with the “usual care.” METHODS AND MATERIALS: A total of 58 head-and-neck cancer patients treated with chemoradiotherapy were randomly assigned to usual care, sham swallowing intervention, or active swallowing exercises (pharyngocise). The intervention arms were treated daily during chemoradiotherapy. The primary outcome measure was muscle size and composition (determined by T(2)-weighted magnetic resonance imaging). The secondary outcomes included functional swallowing ability, dietary intake, chemosensory function, salivation, nutritional status, and the occurrence of dysphagia-related complications. RESULTS: The swallowing musculature (genioglossus, hyoglossuss, and mylohyoid) demonstrated less structural deterioration in the active treatment arm. The functional swallowing, mouth opening, chemosensory acuity, and salivation rate deteriorated less in the pharyngocise group. CONCLUSION: Patients completing a program of swallowing exercises during cancer treatment demonstrated superior muscle maintenance and functional swallowing ability.

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