What is the role of head-lift exercises in the treatment of dysphagia?

Updated: Mar 20, 2020
  • Author: Nam-Jong Paik, MD, PhD; Chief Editor: Elizabeth A Moberg-Wolff, MD  more...
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Head-lift exercises increase anterior movement of the hyolaryngeal complex and opening of the upper esophageal sphincter. Patients lie flat and are instructed to keep their shoulders on the floor as they raise their head high enough to see their toes, maintaining this position for 1 minute. They repeat this activity 3 times, followed by 30 consecutive repetitions of the same action. Patients should perform this exercise 3 times per day for several weeks.

A study by Choi et al indicated that combining head-lift exercises with conventional dysphagia therapy is more effective than conventional dysphagia therapy alone in the treatment of poststroke dysphagia. Greater improvement in degree of aspiration (evaluated using the Penetration-Aspiration Scale) and oral diet level (assessed via the Functional Oral Intake Scale) was seen in the head-lift group than in the patients who received only conventional treatment. [56]

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