Weakness in tongue muscle strength and laryngeal elevation is known to have an adverse impact on swallowing function. Various swallowing exercises are often recommended to improve function of these important structures with the goal of preventing aspiration and improving swallow efficiency. The authors of this paper undertook a small proof of concept study to examine whether multiple groups of muscles, but in particular the geniohyoid muscle, could be targeted using a tongue pressure measurement device. Seven healthy young adults participated in an eight-week exercise programme using the tongue pressure device, which consisted of a small balloon bulb positioned between the tongue and anterior palate. Pressure measurements were recorded as participants performed the exercise –pressing the tongue against the hard palate 30 times in each session, with three sessions a day. The target pressure was set initially at 60% for the first week, and then at 80% of the participant’s maximum tongue pressure (computed by asking participant to press tongue against the palate as hard as possible and measuring baseline pressure). After the eight-week programme, they found that the average maximum tongue pressure for their group of patients increased from 44.9kPa to 61.6kPa. Ultrasound imaging used to measure the area of the geniohyoid muscle showed a significant increase from 2.3cm2 to 2.6cm2 following the exercise programme. They concluded that the device was useful to increase power of the geniohyoid and tongue muscles simultaneously. The potential for this device to produce positive effects in older adults and people with dysphagia is yet to be explored.
Increasing tongue strength to reduce dysphagia: what is the potential benefit of a device driven exercise?
Reviewed by Roganie Govender
Effects of Tongue‑Strengthening Exercise on the Geniohyoid Muscle in Young Healthy Adults.
University College London, Head & Neck Academic Centre, UK.View Full Profile