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Swallowing therapy of neurologic patients: Correlation of outcome with pretreatment variables and therapeutic methods

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The results of swallowing therapy in 58 patients with neurologic disorders are presented. All patients received tube feeding, either partially or exclusively, at admission, and successful outcomes, defined as exclusively oral feeding, were achieved in 67% of patients over a median treatment interval of 15 weeks. A subset of 11 patients who had experienced disease onset 25 weeks or more prior to admission nonetheless had a similar success rate of 64%. No other pretreatment variable, including age, localization of lesion, type or degree of aspiration, or cognitive status, correlated with successful outcome. Indirect therapy methods such as stimulation techniques and exercises to enhance the swallowing reflex, alter muscle tone, and improve voluntary function of the orofacial, lingual, and laryngeal musculature were utilized in all but 1 patient. Direct methods including compensatory strategies such as head and neck positioning, and techniques such as supraglottic swallowing and the Mendelsohn maneuver were additionally employed in nearly one-half of patients. Swallowing therapy is associated with successful outcome, as defined by exclusively oral feeding, among patients with neurogenic dysphagia, regardless of pretreatment variables including time since disease onset. Indirect treatment methods appear to be effective when used either alone or in combination with direct methods. Achievement of oral feeding is not associated with undue risk of pneumonia. Further rigorous scientific studies are needed.

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Correspondence to David Buchholz MD.

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Neumann, S., Bartolome, G., Buchholz, D. et al. Swallowing therapy of neurologic patients: Correlation of outcome with pretreatment variables and therapeutic methods. Dysphagia 10, 1–5 (1995). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00261272

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Key words

  • Dysphagia
  • Swallowing therapy
  • Swallowing rehabilitation
  • Deglutition
  • Deglutition disorders