Can muscle vibration be the future in the treatment of cerebral palsy-related drooling? A feasibility study

Int J Med Sci. 2019 Sep 20;16(11):1447-1452. doi: 10.7150/ijms.34850. eCollection 2019.


Background: Drooling is an involuntary loss of saliva from the mouth, and it is a common problem for children with cerebral palsy (CP). The treatment may be pharmacological, surgical, or speech-related. Repeated Muscle Vibration (rMV) is a proprioceptive impulse that activates fibers Ia reaching the somatosensory and motor cortex. Aim: The aim of the study is to evaluate the effectiveness of rMV in the treatment of drooling in CP. Design, setting and population: This was a rater blinded prospective feasibility study, performed at the "Gli Angeli di Padre Pio" Foundation, Rehabilitation Centers (Foggia, Italy), involving twenty-two CP patients affected by drooling (aged 5-15, mean 9,28 ± 3,62). Children were evaluated at baseline (T0), 10 days (T1), 1 month (T2) and 3 months (T3) after the treatment. Methods: The degree and impact of drooling was assessed by using the Drooling Impact Scale (DIS), the Drooling Frequency and Severity Scale (DFSS), Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) and Drooling Quotient (DQ). An rMV stimulus under the chin symphysis was applied with a 30 min protocol for 3 consecutive days. Results: The statistical analysis shows that DIS, DFSS, VAS, DQ improved with significant differences in the multiple comparisons between T1 vs T2, T1 vs T3 and T1 vs T4 (p≤0.001). Conclusion This study demonstrates that rMV might be a safe and effective tool in reducing drooling in patients with CP. The vibrations can improve the swallowing mechanisms and favor the acquisition of the maturity of the oral motor control in children with CP.

Keywords: Muscle vibration; developmental disorders; neurorehabilitation; sialorrhea..

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Cerebral Palsy / physiopathology
  • Cerebral Palsy / therapy*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Muscles / physiopathology*
  • Physical Therapy Modalities
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sialorrhea / physiopathology
  • Sialorrhea / prevention & control
  • Sialorrhea / therapy*
  • Vibration / therapeutic use*