The Effects of Whole-body Exercise to Improve Swallowing Function in Older Adults With Dementia

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    McMaster University
Updated on 4 May 2022
aerobic exercise


Swallowing impairment (dysphagia) is extremely common in older adults living with dementia due to age-related changes in swallowing and other disease-specific impairments. Dysphagia is commonly managed by modifying diet textures rather than engaging in rehabilitative swallowing therapy. This means that countless people with dementia are left to eat pureed foods and drink thickened liquids, which are unpalatable and lead to malnutrition. As the disease progresses, many are transferred to nursing homes. In Canada, speech-language pathologists, who manage dysphagia, are consultants within nursing homes; therefore, swallowing therapy is non-existent. However, exercise therapy is more commonly available. Rodent models have demonstrated that physical exercise strengthens tongue and vocal-fold musculature, which are critical components of swallowing. Therefore, it is possible that whole-body physical exercise, which increases rate of respiration, will help to strengthen swallowing-related musculature in older adults with dementia. In this study, older adults (65+) with early-stage dementia will complete a 12-week physical exercise program to determine improvement of swallowing function.

Condition Old Age; Dementia, Swallowing Disorder, Cough, Parkinson Disease, Neuro-Degenerative Disease
Treatment Whole-body exercise
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT04362228
SponsorMcMaster University
Last Modified on4 May 2022


Yes No Not Sure

Inclusion Criteria

> 59 years of age
able to walk independently with or without an assistive device for a distance of at least 10 meters
able to be active for 60 minutes with rest breaks
abe to independently follow directions
not involved in active rehabilitation
a diagnosis of a progressive neurologic disease
a maximum value for tongue strength <40 kPa

Exclusion Criteria

neurological conditions other than a progressive neurologic disease
significant cardiovascular conditions
severe aphasia
pain, other medical conditions or behavioural issues that would limit safe participation in the exercise program
individuals with known structural causes of dysphagia
individuals with known allergies to latex
individuals receiving swallowing rehab
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