Comparison of Maximal Lingual Pressure Generation During Isometric Gross and Fine Sensorimotor Tasks in Healthy Adults


OBJECTIVES: To (1) compare 2 distinct isometric lingual press tasks, fine sensorimotor versus gross sensorimotor, at multiple sensor locations in relation to age and sex; and (2) provide a normative data set using a lingual-strengthening device. DESIGN: Cohort study. SETTING: University. PARTICIPANTS: Healthy men and women (N=71; age range, 21-82y) recruited from the community. INTERVENTIONS: Participants were stratified by age and sex and divided into 3 age groups. Participants completed, in random order, 2 isometric tasks: (1) fine sensorimotor: tongue press maximally and discreetly against each of 5 sensors; and (2) gross sensorimotor: tongue press maximally against all 5 sensors simultaneously. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Primary outcome was maximum isometric pressure in hectopascals (hPa). Secondary outcomes were time to reach peak pressure (s) and pressure gradient (hPa/s). RESULTS: Maximum pressures were significantly lower in those of older age for both fine and gross sensorimotor lingual tasks (P<.01), with the front and back sensors showing the greatest decline (35% and 45%, respectively). Pressure differences between tasks (P=.0012) resulted in the fine sensorimotor task generating higher pressures at the front sensor for all age groups. However, the gross sensorimotor task generated faster maximum pressures at all sensor locations for all age groups. For both sensorimotor tasks, subjects of older age as a whole generated less steep pressure gradients (P<.001). CONCLUSIONS: Age-related decline in tongue strength is greater at the anterior and posterior tongue. Results indicate a simpler gross sensorimotor task may be more beneficial for targeting timing as a biomechanical parameter during therapy, and the fine sensorimotor task may be more beneficial for targeting strength.

Archives of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation