Biofeedback as an Adjunctive Treatment for Post-stroke Dysphagia

  • End date
    Oct 3, 2025
  • participants needed
  • sponsor
    IRCCS San Camillo, Venezia, Italy
Updated on 8 April 2023


The aim of the study is to evaluate whether the effect of biofeedback treatment is more effective than a control treatment in the recovery of dysphagia.

This study will be a multicentric randomized, single-blind controlled study. The investigators intend to recruit 100 patients who have suffered a stroke and have dysphagia. Fifty patients will undergo training with bio-feedback (experimental group) and the other fifty patients will undergo standard training, using only verbal feedback rather than visual feedback (control group). Our hypothesis, based on the results obtained in some previous studies, is that in the control group the efficacy of the treatment will be lower in the absence of immediate visual feedback of strength, timing, coordination and efficacy of the swallowing act.


The procedure is divided into the following steps:

  • Clinical and instrumental evaluation (fibroendoscopy) of swallowing functions before the treatment;
  • 20 sessions with bio feedback treatment or 20 session of control treatment;
  • Clinical and instrumental evaluation (fibroendoscopy) of swallowing functions after the training;
  • Clinical and instrumental evaluation (fibroendoscopy) of swallowing functions after 2 months as follow up. Each participant will attend 5 sessions per week for a total duration of 4 weeks. The duration of each session will take 1 hour, including bio-feedback preparation that will take about 10 minutes for assembly and 5 minutes for removal. At the beginning of the bio-feedback session, two surface electrodes will be applied to the mylohyoid muscle. The computer will analyze the electromyographic signal of the patient in real time and will produce visual feedback of the muscular activity on the screen. The patient will be required to swallow at a given time, with food bolus if possible, and perform maneuvers that favor swallowing strength and efficacy. During the first session, participant will be instructed to use the tool before starting the training phase. Patients of both groups will participate in similar sessions, with classical maneuvers favoring swallowing efficacy that is effortful swallow and specific task of timing and coordination (with bolus administration, if possible) and Masako maneuver. The experimental group will perform this training for 45 minutes with the support of visualization of muscle activity on the screen (biofeedback), while the control group will attend the same training for 45 minutes, but receiving verbal feedback from the speech and language therapist.

Data analysis

On the measures collected, a descriptive statistical analyzis and distribution will be studied. Initial instrumental and clinical data will be collected administrating: FOIS scale (Functional Oral Intake Scale), PAS (Penetration-Aspiration Scale), Yale Scale, MASA (Mann Assessment of Swallowing Abilities),SWAL QOL (outcomes tool for oropharyngeal dysphagia in adults), TOMASS (test of masticated and swallowing solids); Cranial nerves. All the tests will be analyzed using parametric (t-test) and non-parametric (Wilcoxon test) tests with a p-value considered significant if <0.05, while longitudinal variations will be analysed using ANOVA for repeated measurements.

Condition Dysphagia, Rehabilitation, Stroke
Treatment Biofeedback, conventional
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT05591040
SponsorIRCCS San Camillo, Venezia, Italy
Last Modified on8 April 2023


Yes No Not Sure

Inclusion Criteria

first stroke injury
onset from more than six weeks
presence of dysphagia
good comprehension ( not below PT 53 in Token Test)
good eyesight and hearing, or adequately corrected

Exclusion Criteria

All the elements that hinder a good recording of the electromyographic signal (for instance a cutaneous infection, a wound or a dermatitis in the submandibular area)
Severe concomitant illnesses (fever, infections, metabolic problems, serious cardiac insufficiency) that can influence patient's collaboration
Serious dystonia or unintentional movements
presence of disorders of consciousness
encephalopathy due to multiple infarcts
inability to sustain the experimental treatment
other neurological diseases (for example Parkinson disease)
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