The purpose of this investigation was to correlate oropharyngeal swallow efficiency (OPSE), a summary measure of swallowing function, with its component variables. Videofluorographic assessment of oropharyngeal swallow resulted in the measurement of multiple measures of swallow function in five patient populations and a group of normal volunteers. In total, 759 swallows were studied in 149 persons. Specific dimensions of impairment were identified in the patient groups. Multiple regression analyses were used to relate multiple component variables to OPSE. In patient groups with distinct swallow impairments, OPSE was shown to be representative of the dimensions of impairment. In patient groups with limited impairment and in normal volunteers, the strongest correlates of OPSE were bolus transit times. In all groups, at least four variables were significantly related to OPSE and the squared multiple correlation coefficients ranged from 76% to 89%. We conclude that oropharyngeal swallow efficiency is a representative summary measure of swallowing function across populations characterized by a wide range of swallowing impairment.
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