Do swallowing exercises improve swallowing dynamic and quality of life in Parkinson’s disease?

NeuroRehabilitation. 2013 Jan 1;32(4):949-55. doi: 10.3233/NRE-130918.


Division of Neurology and Epidemiology, Federal University of Bahia, Salvador, Brazil.



To investigate the effect of motor swallowing exercises on swallowing dynamic, quality of life and swallowing complaints in Parkinson’s disease (PD).


A before-after trial.


University Medical Center.


Parkinson’s disease patients with dysphagia complaints.


Motor swallowing exercises designed to increase the strength and range of motion of the mouth, larynx and pharyngeal structures, coordination between breathing and swallowing, and airway protection. Patients should perform the exercises twice a day, five days a week, for five weeks.


The primary outcome was the difference before and after the intervention in number of swallowing videofluoroscopic events (Swallowing Score). The secondary outcomes were quality of life (QOL) and swallowing complaints.


Fifteen patients concluded the study (10 man/5 woman; mean age 59.2 ± 9.17). The videofluoroscopic events with greater improvement were loss of bolus control (P < 0.03), piecemeal swallow (P = 0.05) and residue on the tongue (P < 0.01), valleculae (P = 0.01) and pyriform sinuses (P = 0.05). Lingual pumping and dental absence were interfering factors associated with treatment failure (beta standardized coefficient = -16.6, 26.2; P = 0.02, 0.002, respectively). The domains with greater improvements in QOL were fear (P = 0.02) and symptom frequency (P = 0.05). Regarding swallowing complaints, patients reported to have reduced mainly their difficulty in moving food in the mouth when chewing (P = 0.02). Reduction in swallowing disorders was not related with QOL improvement (cor = 0.13, [95% CI, 0.6-0.4], P = 0.63).


Motor swallowing exercises may reduce swallowing disorders in PD patients without lingual pumping and dental absence and impact positively QOL and swallowing complaints in individuals with PD.


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