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The Effects of Cervical Bracing Upon Swallowing in Young, Normal, Healthy Volunteers


The purpose of this study was to evaluate radiographically the effects of cervical bracing upon swallowing thin liquids and solid food in normal adults under three cervical bracing conditions. This was a prospective, repeated measures design study. Seventeen healthy adult volunteers between the ages of 30 and 50 were recruited from hospital staff. All subjects reported no previous history of swallowing difficulty or diseases that might affect swallowing. Subjects were radiographically observed swallowing thin liquids and solid food without cervical bracing and with three common cervical orthoses (Philadelphia collar, SOMI, and halo-vest brace). Order of bracing and type of bolus were randomized. Changes in swallowing function (point of initiation of swallow response, presence of pharyngeal residue, airway penetration, hyoid bone movement, diameter of oropharyngeal airway, and durational measurements) were analyzed by two independent raters. Eighty-two percent (14/17) of the subjects demonstrated radiographic changes under one or more of the bracing conditions. Forty-seven percent (8/17) of subjects demonstrated changes with point of initiation of the swallow response, 59% (10/17) demonstrated increased pharyngeal residue, and 23.5% (4/17) demonstrated changes with bolus flow with laryngeal penetration present. Aspiration did not occur under any of the bracing conditions. Changes noted in durational measurements for oral containment and total pharyngeal transit under the bracing conditions were not considered statistically significant. This study shows that cervical bracing does change swallowing physiology in normal healthy adults.

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Stambolis, V., Brady, S., Klos, D. et al. The Effects of Cervical Bracing Upon Swallowing in Young, Normal, Healthy Volunteers . Dysphagia 18, 39–45 (2003).

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  • Dysphagia Videofluoroscopy Cervical bracing Deglutition Deglutition disorders