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Authors Langmore SE, McCulloch TM, Krisciunas GP, Lazarus CL, Van Daele DJ, Pauloski BR, Rybin D, Doros G
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Journal Head Neck Volume: 38 Suppl 1 Pages: E1221-31
Publish Date 2016 Apr
PubMed ID 26469360
PMC ID 4833725

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.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.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.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.

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