No AccessAmerican Journal of Speech-Language PathologyResearch Article12 Nov 2020

Respiratory–Swallow Coordination Training Improves Swallowing Safety and Efficiency in a Person With Anoxic Brain Injury

    Purpose

    The aim of this study was to assess the effects of respiratory–swallow coordination training (RSCT) on respiratory–swallow coordination (RSC), swallowing safety (penetration/aspiration), and swallowing efficiency (pharyngeal residue) in a person with anoxic brain injury.

    Method

    A 68-year-old man with anoxic brain injury, tachypnea, and severe dysphagia was recruited to participate in a prospective AABAA single-subject experimental design. RSC, swallowing safety, and swallowing efficiency were measured at each assessment using respiratory inductive plethysmography and flexible endoscopic evaluations of swallowing. Data were analyzed descriptively using Cohen's d effect size. Outcome measures were compared pre-RSCT to post-RSCT, and pre-RSCT to a 1-month retention assessment.

    Results

    Improvements in RSC were observed immediately post-RSCT (d = 0.60). These improvements were maintained upon retention assessment 1 month later (d = 0.60). Additionally, improvements in swallowing safety (d = 1.73), efficiency (d = 1.73), and overall dysphagia severity (d = 1.73) were observed immediately post-RSCT and were maintained upon retention assessment 1 month later (d = 1.73).

    Conclusions

    Clinically meaningful improvements in RSC were observed following four sessions of RSCT, which were subsequently associated with large improvements in swallowing safety and efficiency. RSCT may be an efficacious, clinically feasible skill-based exercise for people with anoxic brain injury, suboptimal RSC, and dysphagia. Future work is needed to expand these findings in a larger cohort of people with dysphagia.

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