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Outcomes of Swallowing Rehabilitation in Chronic Brainstem Dysphagia: A Retrospective Evaluation

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This study examines the functional and physiologic outcomes of treatment in a group of 10 patients with chronic dysphagia subsequent to a single brainstem injury. All patients participated in a structured swallowing treatment program at a metropolitan teaching hospital. This program differs from more traditional swallowing treatment by the inclusion of surface electromyography biofeedback as a treatment modality and the completion of 10 hr of direct treatment in the first week of intervention. A retrospective analysis of medical records and patient questionnaires was used to gain information regarding medical history, site of lesion, prior interventions, and patient perception of swallowing recovery. Physiologic change in swallowing treatment, as measured by severity ratings of videofluoroscopic swallowing studies, was demonstrated in nine of 10 patients after 1 week or 10 sessions of treatment. Functional change was measured by diet level tolerance after 1 week of treatment, at 6 months, and again at 1 year posttreatment. Eight of the 10 patients were able to return to full oral intake with termination of gastrostomy tube feedings, whereas two demonstrated no long-term change in functional swallowing. Of the eight who returned to full oral intake, the average duration of tube feedings following treatment until discontinuation was 5.3 months, with a range of 1–12 months. Six patients who returned to oral intake maintained gains in swallowing function, and two patients returned to nonoral nutrition as the result of a new unrelated medical condition.

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Huckabee, M., Cannito, M. Outcomes of Swallowing Rehabilitation in Chronic Brainstem Dysphagia: A Retrospective Evaluation. Dysphagia 14, 93–109 (1999).

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