The effect of the Shaker head?lift exercise on swallowing function following treatment for head and neck cancer: Results from a randomized, controlled trial with videofluoroscopic evaluation

AbstractBackground

Dysphagia is common following treatment for head and neck cancer (HNC) and intervention to improve swallowing function is warranted. This study aimed to evaluate the efficacy of the Shaker head-lift exercise (HLE) to improve dysphagia in HNC patients.

Methods

Patients treated for HNC with radiochemotherapy and with subsequent dysphagia were randomly assigned to intervention (HLE, n =?25) and control (standard dysphagia management, n =?27) groups. Videofluoroscopic evaluation of penetration-aspiration, initiation, residue, movement of selected structures, and self-perceived swallowing function, before and after 8?weeks of treatment, were compared.

Results

Although adherence to training was high, no statistically significant differences in objectively measured swallowing function between the groups or within-group changes were found. Self-perceived swallowing function improved in the intervention group.

Conclusions

In this HNC population, neither HLE nor standard dysphagia management improved objectively measured swallowing function as evaluated after 8?weeks. Future research focusing on finding effective interventions for dysphagia is warranted.