Independent exercise for glottal incompetence to improve vocal problems and prevent aspiration pneumonia in the elderly: a randomized controlled trial

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Objectives:To evaluate the effect of a self-controlled vocal exercise in elderly people with glottal closure insufficiency.Design:Parallel-arm, individual randomized controlled trial.Methods:Patients who visited one of 10 medical centers under the National Hospital Organization group in Japan for the first time, aged 60 years or older, complaining of aspiration or hoarseness, and endoscopically confirmed to have glottal closure insufficiency owing to vocal cord atrophy, were enrolled in this study. They were randomly assigned to an intervention or a control group. The patients of the intervention group were given guidance and a DVD about a self-controlled vocal exercise. The maximum phonation time which is a measure of glottal closure was evaluated, and the number of patients who developed pneumonia during the six months was compared between the two groups.Results:Of the 543 patients enrolled in this trial, 259 were allocated into the intervention group and 284 into the control; 60 of the intervention group and 75 of the control were not able to continue the trial. A total of 199 patients (age 73.9 ±7.25 years) in the intervention group and 209 (73.3 ±6.68 years) in the control completed the six-month trial. Intervention of the self-controlled vocal exercise extended the maximum phonation time significantly (p < 0.001). There were two hospitalizations for pneumonia in the intervention group and 18 in the control group, representing a significant difference (p < 0.001).Conclusion:The self-controlled vocal exercise allowed patients to achieve vocal cord adduction and improve glottal closure insufficiency, which reduced the rate of hospitalization for pneumonia significantly.ClinicalTrial.govIdentifier-UMIN000015567

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