Research shows that 1% of children experience swallowing difficulties, though the incidence is higher in some, such as those with cerebral palsy and brain injury. One of the causes of pharyngeal phase dysphagia is the absent gag reflex. The aim of this case study was to investigate the effects of sensory stimulation combined with Neuro Muscular Electrical Stimulation (NMES) on dysphagia and gag reflex.
This study was conducted on a 2.5-year-old child with midbrain disorders and absence of oral swallowing and gag reflex. At the beginning of the treatment, sensory-tactile stimulation were provided which induced successful oral swallowing. The treatment was then continued with NMES along with stimulations of the sensory-tactile receptor. Over 26 sessions of NMES, the gag reflex was induced by a 2-second stimulation of the posterior pharyngeal wall, and the time interval between suctions increased to two hours. The present Study showed that NMES activates and strengthens the muscles involved in swallowing.