The effects of intraoral pressure sensors on normal young and old swallowing patterns


Lingual pressure generation plays a crucial role in oropharyngeal swallowing. To more discretely study the dynamic oropharyngeal system, a 3-bulb array of pressure sensors was designed with the Kay Elemetrics Corporation (Lincoln Park, NJ). The influence of the device upon normal swallowing mechanics and boluses representative of flow relative to age and bolus condition was the focus of this study. Twelve healthy adults in two age groups (31 +/- 5 years, 2 males and 4 females, and 78 +/- 7 years, 2 males and 4 females) participated. Each subject was instructed to swallow four boluses representative of conditions with and without three pressure sensors affixed to the hard palate. Post-swallow residue at four locations, Penetration/Aspiration Scale scores, and three bolus flow timing measures were assessed videofluoroscopically with respect to age and bolus condition. The only statistically significant influences attributable to the presence of the pressure sensors were slight increases in residue in the oral cavity and upper esophageal sphincter with some bolus consistencies, 8% more frequent trace penetration of the laryngeal vestibule predominantly with effortful swallowing, and variances in oral clearance duration. We conclude that the presence of the pressure sensors does not significantly alter normal swallowing patterns of healthy individuals.