Coelho CA, Ferranti R  Arch Phys Med Rehabil  1991 Dec;72(13):1071-5


Department of Communication Disorders, Gaylord Hospital, Wallingford, CT 06492.

Questionnaires pertaining to swallowing function were mailed to 220 members of postpolio support groups in Connecticut. Of the 109 responses, 80 individuals reported having no difficulty with swallowing, while 29 reported having either intermittent or consistent swallowing problems. Twenty-one of the 29 were seen for videofluoroscopic swallowing studies and pulmonary function testing. The swallowing studies showed that 43% of these individuals had difficulty with bolus control, 19% with delayed swallow response, and 81% with decreased pharyngeal transit. Although none of these individuals were observed to aspirate, two were judged to be at significant risk. Incidence of dysphagia within the group of polio survivors was estimated to be approximately 18%. Seventeen of the 20 postpolio subjects with dysphagia also demonstrated decreased breathing capacity. Although moderately to severely depressed values in the pulmonary function measures accompanied moderate dysphagia in certain postpolio individuals, reduced values in these same measures were also present in individuals with minimal swallowing dysfunction. Therefore, although impaired breathing may complicate swallowing dysfunction and vice versa, it does not appear that one can be predicated from the other. Management of dysphagia in postpolio individuals is discussed.

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