Sensorimotor Brain Plasticity in Stroke Patients with Dysphagia : A Methodological Study on Investigation and Treatment

Abstract: AimsThe aims of the thesis were to validate investigation instruments for stroke patients with dysphagia, and to improve oropharyngeal dysphagia therapies.Methods/ResultsA Lip Force Meter, LF 100, affirmed excellent intra- and inter-reliability, sensitivity and specificity. Controls had significantly stronger lip force (LF) and swallowing capacity (SC) than stroke patients. A normal lower limit of LF was set to 15 Newton. Dysphagia symptoms improved in 7 stroke patients after a 5-week sensorimotor stimulation therapy comprising manual body and facial regulation in combination with palatal plate application. Impaired LF and impaired SC were parallel phenomena in 22 acute stroke patients and did not differ regardless of presence or absence of facial palsy. LF and SC improved and were parallel phenomena in 30 stroke patients and did not differ regardless of presence or absence of facial palsy, time lag between stroke attack and start of treatment, or age. SC was normalized in 19 of 30 dysphagia patients after a 5-8-week daily lip muscle self-training with an oral screen. ConclusionsLF100 is an appropriate and reliable instrument for measuring lip force. Dysphagia improvement, by body and facial sensorimotor stimulation in combination with palatal plate application, or by training with an oral screen is excellent examples of brain plasticity and cortical reorganisation. . Swallowing capacity and lip force in stroke patients are parallel phenomena. A sub clinical facial paresis seems to be present in most stroke patients. Training with an oral screen can improve LF and SC in stroke patients with oropharyngeal dysphagia.