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Medical Science Monitor Basic Research


eISSN: 1643-3750

Effects of Synchronized Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation (NMES) on the Submental Muscles During Ingestion of a Specified Volume of Soft Food in Patients with Mild-to-Moderate Dysphagia Following Stroke

Qian Zhang, Shuang Wu

Department of Rehabilitation, The Affiliated Hospital of Guizhou Medical University, Guiyang, Guizhou, China (mainland)

Med Sci Monit 2021; 27:e928988

DOI: 10.12659/MSM.928988

Available online: 2021-02-02

Published: 2021-03-29


BACKGROUND: Neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) is a method for producing regular contractions of muscles that have been paralyzed. This study aimed to evaluate the effects of synchronized NMES on the submental muscles during ingestion of a specified volume of soft food in patients with mild-to-moderate dysphagia following stroke.
MATERIAL AND METHODS: Eighty-three patients with mild-to-moderate dysphagia following stroke were enrolled and randomly divided into 3 groups: conventional training (CT) (n=28), eating training (ET) (n=28), and intensive swallowing training (IST) (n=27). The CT group received conventional swallow training, the ET group was given additional individual feedings with a specified volume of soft food, and the IST group received intensive swallowing training with synchronized NEMS. All of the patients were evaluated before and after the treatment with a modified barium swallow, and the Dysphagia Outcome and Severity Scale (DOSS); the numbers of patients with Stroke-Associated Pneumonia (SAP) and wet voice also were assessed.
RESULTS: After 6 weeks, DOSS scores improved in patients in all 3 groups, and there were significant differences among the groups in their scores (P<0.001 for both measures). In the CT and ET groups, there was a statistically significant difference in the number of patients with SAP before and after treatment (P=0.010 and P<0.001, respectively). There also were fewer cases in the IST group than in the CT (P=0.042) and ET groups (P=0.011). After completion of treatment, compared with the first treatment, there were significantly fewer patients with wet voices in the CT (P<0.001) and IST groups (P<0.001).
CONCLUSIONS: Feeding a specified volume of soft food plus synchronized NMES of the submental muscles can improve the swallowing function of patients with mild-to-moderate dysphagia following stroke and it reduces their risk of food aspiration.

Keywords: Deglutition Disorders, Electric Stimulation Therapy, Feeding Methods, Stroke