Efficacy of exercises to rehabilitate dysphagia: A critique of the literature

Int J Speech Lang Pathol. 2015 Jun;17(3):222-9. doi: 10.3109/17549507.2015.1024171. Epub 2015 Mar 31.


Purpose: This review critiques the benefit of commonly used rehabilitative exercises for dysphagia.

Method: Common goals of rehabilitation for dysphagia and principles of neuroplasticity are introduced as they apply to swallowing and non-swallowing exercises. A critique of published studies is offered regarding their evidence for showing benefit from the exercise.

Result: One of five swallow exercises had preliminary evidence for long-term benefit and two of four non-swallow exercises have strong evidence for long-term benefit.

Conclusion: Only a minority of exercises prescribed for patients with dysphagia have sufficient evidence for long-term improvement in swallowing.

Keywords: Dysphagia; efficacy; therapy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Deglutition Disorders / diagnosis
  • Deglutition Disorders / physiopathology
  • Deglutition Disorders / rehabilitation*
  • Deglutition*
  • Esophagus / physiopathology*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Exercise Therapy / methods*
  • Humans
  • Recovery of Function
  • Treatment Outcome