The Effects of Intensive Expiratory Muscle Strength Training (EMST) on Respiratory and Speech Function in Adults with Cerebral Palsy: A Case Study

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  • Expiratory Muscle Strength Training (EMST), or exhaling against high resistance at the airway opening, is a procedure that requires high chest wall muscular effort. High expiratory effort practiced over time is thought to strengthen the neural control of these chest wall muscles as measured by changes in intermuscular coherence. Previous research using EMST also has shown to positively impact speech, voice and swallowing function in adults with neurogenic communication disorders that includes Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson Disease. The current project sought to explore the effects of EMST in an adult with cerebral palsy (CP). Changes to maximum expiratory pressures (MEPs), chest wall intermuscular coherence, chest wall kinematics, voice, speech, and quality of life following a two-week training period with the EMST device were investigated in one individual with severe CP. Findings showed that though the primary variable, MEP, did not change, intermuscular coherence indicated improvement in respiratory coordination. Positive changes were noted in other variables including vocal loudness and sustained phonation length. The findings suggested that coordination between speech subsystems (respiratory and laryngeal) may have improved as a result of the training procedure, leading to perceived improvements in the participant’s functioning and quality of life related to speech, voice, and swallowing abilities.

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    Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 International