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Objective: The objective of this study was to determine the effect of intensity dosing during tongue exercise on tongue pressure generation, adherence, and perceived effort.

Design: This was a five-site, prospective, randomized clinical trial. Outcome measures were obtained across multiple baselines, biweekly during exercise, and 4-weeks post-intervention.

Setting: The general community at each study site. Participants: Typically aging adults between 55–82 years of age with no history of neurological or swallowing disorders. Eighty-four volunteers completed the study.

Interventions: Participants were randomly assigned to one of four exercise groups: (a) maximum intensity/no biofeedback, (b) progressive intensity/no bio- feedback, (c) maximum intensity/biofeedback, and (d) progressive intensity/ biofeedback. Half of the participants completed a maintenance exercise program.

Outcome Measures: Maximum isometric pressure (MIP), regular effort saliva swallow pressure, adherence, and the Borg Rating of Perceived Exertion Scale.

Results: All exercise protocols were efficacious for gains in MIP (large effect sizes; Cohen’s d). Group 3 made gains in regular effort saliva swallow pressure (medium effect size). There was a significant change in perceived exertion for regular effort saliva swallow pressure at 8 weeks. Tongue pressure gains were maintained at 1 month, regardless of maintenance group status. Mean adherence across groups was high.

Conclusions: All groups improved pressure generation. Intensity dosing differences did not affect strength gains, adherence, or detraining. Regular effort saliva swallow pressure may be most responsive to maximum intensity with biofeedback. The findings suggest flexibility in approach to tongue exercise protocols. Tongue muscles may differ from limb muscles in terms of dose response and neuroplasticity principles.

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.