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Am J Speech Lang Pathol. 2003 Nov;12(4):400-15.

Neuromuscular treatments for speech and swallowing: a tutorial.

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Department of Language, Reading, and Exceptionalities, Appalachian State University, Boone, NC 28608, USA.


Despite the proliferation of oral motor therapies, much controversy exists regarding the application and benefit of neuromuscular treatments (NMTs) such as strength training for alleviating dysarthria and/or dysphagia. Not only is limited empirical support available to validate the use of NMTs, but clinicians may also lack the foundational information needed to judge the theoretical soundness of unstudied treatment strategies. This tutorial reviews the theoretical foundations for several NMTs, including active exercises, passive exercises, and physical modalities. It highlights how these techniques have been used to address neuromuscular impairments in the limb musculature and explores potential applications to the speech and swallowing musculature. Key issues discussed in relation to active exercise are the selection of treatment targets (e.g., strength, endurance, power, range of motion), specificity of training, progression, and recovery. Factors influencing the potential effectiveness of passive exercises and physical modalities are presented, along with discussion of additional issues contributing to the controversy surrounding oral motor therapies.

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