Background It is important to evaluate tongue function in terms of its clinical implications for swallowing ability. Motor dysfunction and loss of coordination of the tongue are frequently seen, and this influences the oral and pharyngeal phases of swallowing. The purpose of this pilot study was to evaluate the effect of a single acupuncture treatment for tongue pressure in Parkinson's disease.
Methods A total of 13 patients, aged 57– 84 years, were recruited. Tongue pressure was measured using a tongue pressure manometer. Furthermore, swallowing reflex latency was measured in 3 of the 13 patients.
Results Significant changes were seen after acupuncture in mean tongue pressure, which increased from 23.1 to 26.7 kPa (p<0.01). Reductions were seen after acupuncture in mean swallowing reflex latency (from 5.2 to 4.6 s for first saliva swallow; from 19.9 to 15.7 s for second saliva swallow; and from 10.4 to 5.7 s for third saliva swallow(s)).
Conclusions Our study's findings suggest that acupuncture may be useful for improving oral cavity function, but further controlled trials are needed.
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