Background: Most patients with post-stroke dysphagia are also affected by facial dysfunction in all four facial quadrants. Intraoral stimulation can successfully treat post-stroke dysphagia, but its effect on post-stroke facial dysfunction remains unknown.
Objective: This study aimed to investigate whether intraoral stimulation after stroke has simultaneous effects on facial dysfunction in the contralateral lower facial quadrant and in the other three facial quadrants, on lip force, and on dysphagia.
Methods: Thirty-one stroke patients were treated with intraoral stimulation and assessed with a facial activity test, lip force test, and swallowing capacity test at three time-points: before treatment, at the end of treatment, and at late follow-up (over one year after the end of treatment).
Results: Facial activity, lip force, and swallowing capacity scores were all improved between baseline and the end of treatment (P < 0.001 for each), with these improvements remaining at late follow-up. Baseline and treatment data did not significantly differ between patients treated short and late after stroke.
Conclusions: Treatment with intraoral stimulation significantly improved post-stroke dysfunction in all four facial quadrants, swallowing capacity, and lip force even in cases of long-standing post-stroke dysfunction. Furthermore, such improvement remained for over one year after the end of treatment.
Keywords: Facial dysfunction; dysphagia; lip force; oral screen; palatal plate; stroke.