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Stroke Research and Treatment
Volume 2010 (2010), Article ID 570403, 6 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.4061/2010/570403
Review Article

Dysphagia in Stroke: A New Solution

Speech Pathology Department and Department of Neurology, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, Hospital Avenue Nedlands Western Australia 6009, Australia

Received 1 December 2009; Revised 17 May 2010; Accepted 30 May 2010

Academic Editor: Natan-Meir Bornstein

Copyright © 2010 Claire Langdon and David Blacker. 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.

Abstract

Dysphagia is extremely common following stroke, affecting 13%–94% of acute stroke sufferers. It is associated with respiratory complications, increased risk of aspiration pneumonia, nutritional compromise and dehydration, and detracts from quality of life. While many stroke survivors experience a rapid return to normal swallowing function, this does not always happen. Current dysphagia treatment in Australia focuses upon prevention of aspiration via diet and fluid modifications, compensatory manoeuvres and positional changes, and exercises to rehabilitate paretic muscles. This article discusses a newer adjunctive treatment modality, neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES), and reviews the available literature on its efficacy as a therapy for dysphagia with particular emphasis on its use as a treatment for dysphagia in stroke. There is a good theoretical basis to support the use of NMES as an adjunctive therapy in dysphagia and there would appear to be a great need for further well-designed studies to accurately determine the safety and efficacy of this technique.