Purpose: This study aimed to assess the effectiveness of functional electrical stimulation on the swallowing function of irradiated nasopharyngeal carcinoma patients with dysphagia. Materials and methods: Twenty nasopharyngeal carcinoma subjects with dysphagia were divided into a functional electrical stimulation (FES) and a home rehabilitation program (HRP) group. Each subject completed a quality of life questionnaire on swallowing and a videofluoroscopic study at the commencement and the end of the procedures. The FES group received functional electrical stimulation of the supra-hyoid muscles over 15 sessions. The HRP group performed self-swallowing exercises at home. The evaluation parameters included the quality of life questionnaire scores, the penetration-aspiration scale (PAS), the movement of the hyoid bone, and the amount of pyriform sinuses stasis. Results: Most swallowing outcomes of the FES group improved after FES. The quality of life score (p = 0.003), the duration of the movement of thin barium through the hyoid (p = 0.001), the moving speed of paste barium through the hyoid (p = 0.028), and the pyriform sinus stasis area of the paste barium (p = 0.026) reached significant difference in the FES group. Most swallowing outcomes did not improve in the HRP group. The degree of improvement in the movement speed of the hyoid bone in the thin barium (p = 0.018) and the PAS of the paste barium (p = 0.016) were statistically significantly greater in the FES group than in the HRP group. Conclusion: FES will improve the swallowing function of NPC patients with dysphagia and bring about better quality of life.
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