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Reconsidering Rehabilitation for Neurogenic Dysphagia: Strengthening Skill in Swallowing

Abstract

Purpose of Review

Rehabilitation for oropharyngeal dysphagia aims to improve impaired swallowing biomechanics. However, adverse effects have been reported with strengthening exercises, such as effortful swallowing. Current research is highlighting improvements based on skill, rather than strength, training. Thus, the goal of this review is to determine what evidence exists for skill-based rehabilitation in dysphagia.

Recent Findings

Skill training may be defined as functional repetition and refinement of movement patterns. Skill-based rehabilitation paradigms have been reported for rehabilitation interventions such as lingual accuracy tasks, respiratory-swallowing coordination, and using biofeedback to improve the efficiency of oropharyngeal swallowing. The ultimate goal is to acquire skill in execution of specific swallowing biomechanics at a central level.

Summary

The studies reviewed provide favourable proof-of-concept and positive indicators that skill-based intervention may circumvent some limitations with existing strength-based intervention modalities. Skill-based training in dysphagia may be a promising area for future research.

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Acknowledgments

The University of Canterbury is the owner and manufacturer of the Biofeedback in Strength and Skill Training software; the authors receive no direct income from this.

Author information

Correspondence to Maggie-Lee Huckabee.

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The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.

Additional information

This article is part of the Topical Collection on Swallowing Disorders

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Huckabee, M., Lamvik-Gozdzikowska, K. Reconsidering Rehabilitation for Neurogenic Dysphagia: Strengthening Skill in Swallowing. Curr Phys Med Rehabil Rep 6, 186–191 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40141-018-0193-x

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Keywords

  • Deglutition
  • Dysphagia
  • Rehabilitation
  • Strength
  • Skill training