Electromyographic biofeedback (EMG-BF) is known to be an effective therapy for stroke rehabilitation. However, because few studies have investigated the therapy in patients with dysphagia, its effectiveness is not yet clear. This study aimed to investigate the effect of neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) using EMG-BF on swallowing function in stroke patients with oropharyngeal dysphagia.
In this study, 10 patients with dysphagia were recruited. The 1-group, prepost study design was adopted. All subjects received NMES combined with EMG-BF in the suprahyoid area. Electrical stimulation was provided as a reward when the electrical signal generated by effortful swallowing reached a preset threshold. The intervention was provided for 30minutes a day, 5 times a week for 4 weeks. The videofluoroscopic dysphagia scale (VDS) and penetration?aspiration scale (PAS) based on the videofluoroscopic swallowing study were used to evaluate the swallowing function.
Pre-intervention showed no significant differences in all items of VDS (P>.05). However, there was a statistically significant change in VDS from 13.36±5.94 to 9.36±5.14 (P=.015) in the oral phase, and from 38.36±7.42 to 20.71±14.61 (P=.016) in the pharyngeal phase. The PAS scores showed significant change from 5.14±2.27 to 3.00±1.00 (P=.031).
This study demonstrated that the use of NMES combined with EMG-BF had the potential to improve oropharyngeal swallowing in stroke patients with dysphagia.
EMG-BF = electromyographic biofeedback, NMES = neuromuscular electrical stimulation, PAS = penetration?aspiration scale, VDS = videofluoroscopic dysphagia scale, VFSS = videofluoroscopic swallowing study.
Keywords: aspiration, biofeedback, dysphagia, neuromuscular electrical stimulation, stroke