The Effect of Surface Electrical Stimulation on Swallowing in Dysphagic Parkinson Patients

Laura W. J. Baijens*, Renee Speyer, Valeria Lima Passos, Walmari Pilz, Nel Roodenburg, Pere Clave

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

24 Citations (Web of Science)


Surface electrical stimulation has been applied on a large scale to treat oropharyngeal dysphagia. Patients suffering from oropharyngeal dysphagia in the presence of Parkinson's disease have been treated with surface electrical stimulation. Because of controversial reports on this treatment, a pilot study was set up. This study describes the effects of a single session of surface electrical stimulation using different electrode positions in ten patients with idiopathic Parkinson's disease (median Hoehn and Yahr score: II) and oropharyngeal dysphagia compared to ten age- and gender-matched healthy control subjects during videofluoroscopy of swallowing. Three different electrode positions were applied in random order per subject. For each electrode position, the electrical current was respectively turned "on" and "off" in random order. Temporal, spatial, and visuoperceptual variables were scored by experienced raters who were blinded to the group, electrode position, and status (on/off) of the electrical current. Interrater and interrater reliabilities were calculated. Only a few significant effects of a single session of surface electrical stimulation using different electrode positions in dysphagic Parkinson patients could be observed in this study. Furthermore, significant results for temporal and spatial variables were found regardless of the status of the electrical current in both groups suggesting placebo effects. Following adjustment for electrical current status as well as electrode positions (both not significant, P > 0.05) in the statistical model, significant group differences between Parkinson patients and healthy control subjects emerged. Further studies are necessary to evaluate the potential therapeutic effect and mechanism of electrical stimulation in dysphagic patients with Parkinson's disease.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)528-537
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2012


  • Dysphagia
  • Deglutition disorders
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Electrical stimulation
  • Deglutition

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