Effects of Sensory Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation on Swallowing in the Elderly Affected by Stroke: A Pilot Study

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Abstract

Background:

Few studies show the effectiveness of neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) in the rehabilitation of neurogenic dysphagia.

Objective:

To evaluate the effect of sensory NMES on swallowing in elderly patients with stroke sequelae.

Methods:

Ten poststroke elderly patients were submitted to swallowing video fluoroscopy, from which the degree of oropharyngeal dysphagia was ranked through the Dysphagia Outcome and Severity Scale, measured from the oral and pharyngeal transit times and classified in residue scale, including the application of the swallowing-related quality-of-life protocol, SWAL-QOL, before, immediately, and after 3 months of rehabilitation. The treatment sessions were performed thrice a week, for 4 weeks.

Results:

After therapy, improvement was seen in swallowing classification by Dysphagia Outcome and Severity Scale (P = .023) and a significant difference in the sum of points of SWAL-QOL questionnaire (P = .008) between periods, before, and after 3 months of therapy with NMES. No differences were found between rehabilitation periods, as to waste in the pharynx and times of oral and pharyngeal transit (P > .005).

Conclusions:

The application of NMES, at the sensory level, in elderly patients affected by stroke resulted in decreased dysphagia and in improved quality of life related to swallowing.

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