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Dysphagia. 2009 Sep;24(3):302-13. doi: 10.1007/s00455-009-9207-2. Epub 2009 Apr 24.

Effects of oropharyngeal air-pulse stimulation on swallowing in healthy older adults.

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  • 1School of Communication Sciences and Disorders, Faculty of Health Sciences, Elborn College, Graduate Program in Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, The University of Western Ontario, London, ON N6G 1H1, Canada.


While previous research has shown that air-pulse stimulation of the oropharynx facilitates saliva swallowing in young adults, the effects of air pulses in older adults have not been examined. Responses to air-pulse stimulation may differ in young and older adults given age-related changes in sensation, swallowing physiology, and swallow-related brain activation. Therefore, this study sought to determine the effects of oropharyngeal air-pulse stimulation on saliva swallowing rates in 18 healthy older adults. Saliva swallowing rates were monitored across six conditions: baseline without mouthpiece, baseline with mouthpiece in situ, unilateral right oropharyngeal stimulation, unilateral left oropharyngeal stimulation, bilateral oropharyngeal stimulation, and sham stimulation. Results indicated that bilateral oropharyngeal air-pulse stimulation was associated with a statistically significant increase in mean saliva swallowing rate compared to baseline without mouthpiece, baseline with mouthpiece in situ, and sham stimulation. In previous studies, young adults reported an irrepressible urge to swallow in response to oropharyngeal air-pulse delivery, but the older adults in the current study did not perceive the air-pulse stimulation as being associated with swallowing or other behaviors. These findings indicate that oropharyngeal air-pulse stimulation facilitates the elicitation of saliva swallowing in older adults.

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