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Head Neck. 2016 Apr;38 Suppl 1:E1221-31. doi: 10.1002/hed.24197. Epub 2015 Oct 15.

Efficacy of electrical stimulation and exercise for dysphagia in patients with head and neck cancer: A randomized clinical trial.

Author information

1
Department of Otolaryngology, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts.
2
Department of Speech Language Hearing, Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts.
3
Division of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery, Department of Surgery, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin.
4
Department of Otolaryngology, Boston University Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts.
5
Department of Otolaryngology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, New York.
6
THANC Foundation, Department of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery, Mount Sinai Beth Israel, New York, New York.
7
Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, Iowa City, Iowa.
8
Communication Sciences and Disorders, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois.
9
Data Coordinating Center, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts.
10
Department of Biostatistics, Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) is a highly sought after but poorly studied treatment for dysphagia among patients with head and neck cancer with dysphagia. This study investigated the efficacy of NMES in this patient population.

METHODS:

In this double-blinded, randomized controlled trial, 170 patients with head and neck cancer experiencing posttreatment dysphagia were randomized into active NMES + swallow exercise versus sham NMES + swallow exercise groups. Outcomes after a 12-week program included changes in fluoroscopy measures, diet, and quality of life.

RESULTS:

After the 12-week program, the active NMES group had significantly worse Penetration Aspiration Scale scores than the sham group. Both groups reported significantly better diet and quality of life. No other measures were significant.

CONCLUSION:

NMES did not add benefit to traditional swallow exercises. Unfortunately, swallow exercises were not effective by themselves either. For patients with head and neck cancer with moderate to severe dysphagia caused by radiation therapy, current behavioral therapies are of limited help in reversing long-term dysphagia. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Head Neck 38: E1221-E1231, 2016.

KEYWORDS:

dysphagia; electrical stimulation; exercise; head and neck cancer; radiation therapy

PMID:
26469360
PMCID:
PMC4833725
DOI:
10.1002/hed.24197
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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