Electrical stimulation therapy for dysphagia: a follow-up survey of USA dysphagia practitioners

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Abstract

The aim of this study was to compare current application, practice patterns, clinical outcomes, and professional attitudes of dysphagia practitioners regarding electrical stimulation (e-stim) therapy with similar data obtained in 2005. A web-based survey was posted on the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association Special Interest Group 13 webpage for 1 month. A total of 271 survey responses were analyzed and descriptively compared with the archived responses from the 2005 survey. Results suggested that e-stim application increased by 47% among dysphagia practitioners over the last 10 years. The frequency of weekly e-stim therapy sessions decreased while the reported total number of treatment sessions increased between the two surveys. Advancement in oral diet was the most commonly reported improvement in both surveys. Overall, reported satisfaction levels of clinicians and patients regarding e-stim therapy decreased. Still, the majority of e-stim practitioners continue to recommend this treatment modality to other dysphagia practitioners. Results from the novel items in the current survey suggested that motor level e-stim (e.g. higher amplitude) is most commonly used during dysphagia therapy with no preferred electrode placement. Furthermore, the majority of clinicians reported high levels of self-confidence regarding their ability to perform e-stim. The results of this survey highlight ongoing changes in application, practice patterns, clinical outcomes, and professional attitudes associated with e-stim therapy among dysphagia practitioners.

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