International Journal of
Physical Sciences

  • Abbreviation: Int. J. Phys. Sci.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 1992-1950
  • DOI: 10.5897/IJPS
  • Start Year: 2006
  • Published Articles: 2572

Full Length Research Paper

Effects of NMES on pharyngeal muscle group synergy while swallowing

Larry Barnes    
West Texas A&M University, WTAMU Box 60757, Canyon, Texas 79116, USA.  
Email: [email protected]

  •  Accepted: 02 September 2011
  •  Published: 16 October 2011


The act of swallowing is an extremely complicated event involving multiple muscle groups engaged in complex synergies. Traditionally, dysphagia therapy has focused on muscle strengthening and range of movement. However, recent evidence suggests that specific and shared muscle synergies play a critical role in the coordinated movements required in swallowing. This study investigated the overall effects of muscle strength versus synergy on the swallow events of an elderly woman. A single-subject repeated measures research design was implemented. The quantitative relationships between neuromuscular electronic stimulation (NMES) and duration of the swallow event implicate a modular change in synergy within targeted muscle groups. Outcomes suggest that muscle synergy serves as the primary motor task in actuating a safer swallow. Implications on dysphagia therapy are discussed.


Key words: Dysphagia, electrical stimulation, surface electromyography (sEMG), synergy.