Tongue measures in individuals with normal and impaired swallowing

Am J Speech Lang Pathol. 2007 May;16(2):148-56. doi: 10.1044/1058-0360(2007/019).


Purpose: This investigation sought to add to the extant literature on measures of normal tongue function, to provide information on measures of tongue function in a group of individuals with oral phase dysphagia, and to provide a comparison of these 2 groups matched for age and gender.

Method: The Iowa Oral Performance Instrument was utilized to measure tongue function (strength and endurance) in a group of individuals with normal (N=200) and impaired (N=50) swallowing. The peak measure of 3 encouraged trials was recorded as participants' strength, and 50% of their peak was sustained as long as possible for endurance.

Results: Results for the control group supported previous investigations wherein greater tongue strength was found in males than in females and in the youngest versus oldest groups. The experimental group demonstrated a similar trend in strength for gender. When matched for age and gender, the experimental group demonstrated significantly lower strength. Significant differences were not revealed on measures of tongue endurance.

Conclusions: We were able to extend the normative database on tongue function and document reduced tongue strength in a group of individuals with dysphagia. The findings provide evidence that in this group, tongue weakness coincided with signs of dysphagia, adding justification for tongue-strengthening protocols.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Deglutition / physiology
  • Deglutition Disorders / diagnosis
  • Deglutition Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Matched-Pair Analysis
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle Strength
  • Reference Values
  • Sex Factors
  • Signal Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Tongue / physiopathology*
  • Transducers, Pressure