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Interferential current sensory stimulation, through the neck skin, improves airway defense and oral nutrition intake in patients with dysphagia: a double-blind randomized controlled trial

Authors Maeda K, Koga T, Akagi J

Received 29 April 2017

Accepted for publication 16 September 2017

Published 7 November 2017 Volume 2017:12 Pages 1879—1886


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Richard Walker

Keisuke Maeda,1,2 Takayuki Koga,3 Junji Akagi4

1Department of Nutrition and Dysphagia Rehabilitation, Tamana Regional Health Medical Center, Kumamoto, 2Palliative Care Center, Aichi Medical University, Nagakute, 3Department of Swallowing and Nutritional Therapy, 4Department of Surgery, Tamana Regional Health Medical Center, Tamana, Tamana City, Kumamoto, Japan

Neuromuscular electrical stimulation with muscle contraction, administered through the skin of the neck, improves a patient’s swallowing ability. However, the beneficial effects of transcutaneous electrical sensory stimulation (TESS), without muscle contraction, are controversial. We investigated the effect of TESS, using interferential current, in patients undergoing dysphagia rehabilitation.
Methods: This double-blind, randomized controlled trial involved 43 patients who were prescribed in-hospital dysphagia rehabilitation for ≥3 weeks. Patients were randomly assigned to the sensory stimulation (SS) or sham groups; all received usual rehabilitative care plus 2 weeks of SS or sham intervention. Outcome measures included cough latency times against a 1% citric acid mist, functional oral intake scale (FOIS) scores, and oral nutritional intake – each determined after the second and third week following treatment initiation.
Mean patient age was 84.3±7.5 years; 58% were women. The SS and sham groups had similar baseline characteristics. Changes in cough latency time at 2 weeks (-14.1±14.0 vs -5.2±14.2 s, p=0.047) and oral nutrition intake at 3 weeks (437±575 vs 138±315 kcal/day, p=0.042) improved more in the SS group than in the sham group. Changes in cough frequency and FOIS scores indicated better outcomes in the SS group, based on substantial effect sizes.
Conclusion: TESS, using interferential current through the neck, improved airway defense and nutrition in patients suffering from dysphagia. Further large-scale studies are needed to confirm the technique’s effect on swallowing ability.

Keywords: transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation, deglutition disorders, rehabilitation, nutritional intake

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