Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation Plus Rehabilitative Exercise as a Treatment for Dysphagia in Stroke and Non-Stroke Patients in an NHS Setting: Feasibility and Outcomes

Nicola Martindale, John Stephenson, Sue Pownall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Dysphagia is a debilitating condition with significant consequences in terms of physical and mental health. This study demonstrates that it is feasible to provide an intensive therapy program combining neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) with exercise against resistance in the treatment of dysphagia in a public healthcare setting. Thirty-one patients (17 stroke, 14 non-stroke) who experienced dysphagia with reduced laryngeal elevation completed the therapy program. After checking the data sets for comparability, it was deemed appropriate for the outcome data from these patients to be combined with that of 12 stroke patients previously reported to enable statistical analysis on a larger data set (n = 43). A repeated-measures ANOVA revealed a statistically significant increase in amount and variety of food a patient was able to take orally (FOIS) following completion of treatment (p < 0.001). There was no significant between-subject effect of stroke status (p = 0.43), or interaction between treatment and stroke status (p = 0.68). There was a significant improvement in secondary outcome measures of swallow safety with fluids (PAS) (p < 0.001) and swallow-related quality of life (Swal-Qol (p < 0.001). These findings indicate that the therapy program may be associated with reduced impairment in a subset of patients with dysphagia resulting from stroke and non-stroke atiologies, and the data will inform the design of future research to address unanswered questions.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages17
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 24 Sep 2019


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