Swallowing and dysphagia rehabilitation: Translating principles of neural plasticity into clinically oriented evidence

Jo Anne Robbins*, Susan G. Butler, Stephanie K. Daniels, Roxann Diez Gross, Susan Langmore, Cathy L. Lazarus, Bonnie Martin-Harris, Daniel McCabe, Nan Musson, John C. Rosenbek

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

159 Scopus citations


Purpose: This review presents the state of swallowing rehabilitation science as it relates to evidence for neural plastic changes in the brain. The case is made for essential collaboration between clinical and basic scientists to expand the positive influences of dysphagia rehabilitation in synergy with growth in technology and knowledge. The intent is to stimulate thought and propose potential research directions. Method: A working group of experts in swallowing and dysphagia reviews 10 principles of neural plasticity and integrates these advancing neural plastic concepts with swallowing and clinical dysphagia literature for translation into treatment paradigms. In this context, dysphagia refers to disordered swallowing associated with central and peripheral sensorimotor deficits associated with stroke, neurodegenerative disease, tumors of the head and neck, infection, or trauma. Results and Conclusions: The optimal treatment parameters emerging from increased understanding of neural plastic principles and concepts will contribute to evidence-based practice. Integrating these principles will improve dysphagia rehabilitation directions, strategies, and outcomes. A strategic plan is discussed, including several experimental paradigms for the translation of these principles and concepts of neural plasticity into the clinical science of rehabilitation for oropharyngeal swallowing disorders, ultimately providing the evidence to substantiate their translation into clinical practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S276-S300
JournalJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2008


  • Dysphagia
  • Evidence-based practice
  • Nervous system
  • Rehabilitation
  • Swallowing treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Speech and Hearing
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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