Objective: To examine the effects of lingual exercise on swallowing recovery poststroke.
Design: Prospective cohort intervention study, with 4- and 8-week follow-ups.
Setting: Dysphagia clinic, tertiary care center.
Participants: Ten stroke patients (n=6, acute: < or =3mo poststroke; n=4, chronic: >3mo poststroke), age 51 to 90 years (mean, 69.7y).
Intervention: Subjects performed an 8-week isometric lingual exercise program by compressing an air-filled bulb between the tongue and the hard palate.
Main outcome measures: Isometric and swallowing lingual pressures, bolus flow parameters, diet, and a dysphagia-specific quality of life questionnaire were collected at baseline, week 4, and week 8. Three of the 10 subjects underwent magnetic resonance imaging at each time interval to measure lingual volume.
Results: All subjects significantly increased isometric and swallowing pressures. Airway invasion was reduced for liquids. Two subjects increased lingual volume.
Conclusions: The findings indicate that lingual exercise enables acute and chronic dysphagic stroke patients to increase lingual strength with associated improvements in swallowing pressures, airway protection, and lingual volume.