Inpatient rehabilitation study comparing swallowing outcomes and discharge destinations in acute stroke tube-feeding dependent dysphagia patients treated with neuromuscular electrical stimulation and traditional dysphagia therapy versus those treated with only traditional dysphagia therapy.
Retrospective case-control study including 359 patients with acute stroke having initial Functional Oral Intake Scale scores of 3 or lower (profound to severe tube-feeding dependent dysphagia). One hundred ninety participants received neuromuscular electrical stimulation with traditional dysphagia therapy, and 169 controls received only traditional dysphagia therapy. Treatment occurred in hourly sessions 5 d/wk. Main outcome measures were comparison of Functional Oral Intake Scale scores after treatment (N = 359) and comparison of discharge destinations (n = 267).
The neuromuscular electrical stimulation posttreatment mean ± SD Functional Oral Intake Scale score was 4.21 ± 2.1 versus 2.94 ± 1.96 for controls (t = 5.85, P < 0.001). The neuromuscular electrical stimulation group posttreatment mean ± SD Functional Oral Intake Scale gain was 3.24 ± 2.26 points versus 1.87 ± 2.01 for controls (t = 6.05, P < 0.001). After treatment, 51.6% (98/190) neuromuscular electrical stimulation patients had minimal or no swallowing restrictions (Functional Oral Intake Scale scores = 5–7), whereas only 26.6% (45/169) controls improved with Functional Oral Intake Scale scores of 5–7 (χ2 = 23.3, P < 0.0001). Groups differed by discharge destinations: neuromuscular electrical stimulation having more discharges to community than controls, 60% versus 44% (χ2 = 9.16, P = 0.003), and neuromuscular electrical stimulation having fewer acute care transfers compared with controls, 8% versus 25% (χ2 = 32.7, P < 0.0001).
Neuromuscular electrical stimulation with traditional dysphagia therapy was associated with better discharge swallowing outcomes and Functional Oral Intake Scale scores than traditional dysphagia therapy alone during inpatient rehabilitation in treating acute stroke feeding tube–dependent dysphagia and was associated with more discharges to community and less transfers back to acute care.