Surface Electrical Stimulation in Dysphagic Parkinson Patients: A Randomized Clinical Trial

Laura W. J. Baijens*, Renee Speyer, Valeria Lima Passos, Walmari Pilz, Jolien van der Kruis, Saskia Haarmans, Christel Desjardins-Rombouts

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Objectives/HypothesisA new treatment for oropharyngeal dysphagia in Parkinson's disease was evaluated in the present study. Study DesignProspective randomized controlled trial. MethodsThe study describes the effects of surface electrical stimulation (SES) of the neck (submental region) in dysphagic Parkinson patients using different intensities of electrical current. Quasi-random allocation was performed when assigning patients to treatment groups. Three groups consisting of dysphagic patients with idiopathic Parkinson's disease (N=90) received daily treatment for 15 days with periods of no treatment during the weekend. All three received traditional logopedic dysphagia treatment. In addition, two groups received SES, either motor-level or sensory-level stimulation. A standardized measurement protocol, including fiber optic endoscopic evaluation of swallowing (FEES) and videofluoroscopy of swallowing (VFS), was performed before and after therapy. A team of experienced raters was blinded to the treatment group and to the moment of measurement. Intrarater and interrater reliability were calculated. ResultsUsing proportional odds models (POMs), some of the visuoperceptual ordinal outcome variables showed significant improvement in all groups following treatment. Following 15 days of SES of the submental region, few significant effects were found, suggesting a therapy effect of traditional logopedic dysphagia treatment without any additional influence of SES. ConclusionsOn the grounds of this study, it is concluded that further research is needed on the exact mechanism of SES and its effects on the neural pathways involved in swallowing.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E38-E44
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2013


  • Parkinson's disease
  • dysphagia
  • electrical stimulation

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