The effects of a volitional breathing technique on swallowing and respiratory coordination in individuals with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis: A procedural Protocol

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  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a common motor neuron disorder resulting in the deterioration, weakness and eventual atrophy of many of the key muscles of the body required to sustain life. Breathing and swallowing problems are common among people with ALS (PALS). This current research paper is part of an ongoing study and builds upon a pilot study completed in 2011. The pilot study examined the effectiveness of a new behavioural swallowing technique, referred to as the ‘barrel chest’ maneuver. This is a simple strategy that can be taught by healthcare professionals to PALS and requires the patient to swallow after a large inhalation, creating a ‘big barrel chest’ full of air. Employing the ‘barrel chest’ maneuver is hypothesised to increase lung volume and generate a more forceful cough should material penetrate the airway. The strength of coughing is dependent on lung volume, i.e., a higher lung volume provides a stronger cough. The current SPA 900 project involves analyzing a new dependent variable, i.e., lung volume percentage at the onset of swallowing. A new lab protocol was developed and incorporated into an ongoing study aimed at examining the effectiveness of this compensatory safe swallowing technique.

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    Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 International