Neuromuscular Treatments for Speech and Swallowing: A Tutorial

ASU Author/Contributor (non-ASU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Heather Clark Ph.D., Associate Professor (Creator)
Appalachian State University (ASU )
Web Site:

Abstract: Despite the proliferation of oral motor therapies, much controversy exists regarding the application and benefit of neuromuscular treatments (NMTs) such as strength training for alleviating dysarthria and/or dysphagia. Not only is limited empirical support available to validate the use of NMTs, but clinicians may also lack the foundational information needed to judge the theoretical soundness of unstudied treatment strategies. This tutorial reviews the theoretical foundations for several NMTs, including active exercises, passive exercises, and physical modalities. It highlights how these techniques have been used to address neuromuscular impairments in the limb musculature and explores potential applications to the speech and swallowing musculature. Key issues discussed in relation to active exercise are the selection of treatment targets (e.g., strength, endurance, power, range of motion), specificity of training, progression, and recovery. Factors influencing the potential effectiveness of passive exercises and physical modalities are presented, along with discussion of additional issues contributing to the controversy surrounding oral motor therapies.

Additional Information

Clark, H. M. (2003). Neuromuscular treatments for speech and swallowing: A tutorial. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology. (Nov 2003) 12(4), 400 – 415. Published by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ISSN: 1058-0360).
Language: English
Date: 2003

Email this document to