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Journal of Aging Research
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 542909, 7 pages
Research Article

Optimal Approaches for Measuring Tongue-Pressure Functional Reserve

Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, University Health Network, 550 University Avenue, Toronto, ON, Canada M5G 2A2

Received 1 November 2012; Accepted 14 January 2013

Academic Editor: Paula Bickford

Copyright © 2013 Catriona M. Steele. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Tongue-palate pressure is a parameter of considerable interest in the field of dysphagia. Maximum isometric tongue-palate pressures (MIPs) decline in healthy aging and in dysphagia. Functional reserve (FR) is the difference between MIPs and swallowing pressures. Reduced FR is thought to constitute a risk for developing functional swallowing impairments. We compare different approaches for calculating FR and recommend an optimal approach. Tongue-palate pressure data were collected from 78 healthy adults ( ; ) during anterior and posterior MIPs, regular (RESS) and effortful (ESS) saliva swallows, and water swallows (4 repetitions per task). Six different measures of reserve were calculated using maximum anterior MIPs or ESS pressures at the top, and mean or maximum RESS or water swallow pressures at the bottom of the range. Correlations with age and MIPs were explored to confirm suitability for measuring FR. The impact of normalization to maximum MIP range was explored. We conclude that an optimal measure of FR involves the comparison of maximum MIP with mean saliva swallowing pressures. This parameter declines with age, but when normalized to an individual’s MIP range, the relationship is no longer evident. This suggests that FR does not necessarily decline in healthy aging.