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Dysphagia Study

The Chinese Medical Science Foundation is sponsoring a clinical study at St. Vincent's Hospital Manhattan. This study will research the effectiveness of acupuncture on patients suffering from dysphagia. The study is on-going and we hope to present some results of this study later this year. Chinese Medical Science Foundation and Saint Vincent Catholic Medical Centers Dysphagia Study
Acupuncture Treatment of Patients With Dysphasia Secondary to Cerebral Vascular Accident: A Pilot Study


  • Ning Ma, LAc, MD [China], Principal Investigator
  • Ying An, LAc, MD [China]
  • Loni Burke, MS, CCC-SLP
  • Jennifer Chai, Assist. Research Scientist
  • Alan Chen, MS, MD
  • Adrienne Frohlich, MA, CCC-SLP
  • Diana Serra, RN
  • Julian Sosner, MD

Each year approximately 730,000 Americans suffer from a new or recurrent stroke. Current estimates are that more than four million Americans are stroke survivors. These survivors may suffer substantial residual disabilities.

Dysphagia or difficulty in swallowing occurs in 30% to 52% of all stroke patients. Not only are these patients at risk of aspiration, pneumonia, and malnutrition, but they also have limited options to manage these risks.

Acupuncture protocols show great promise as a treatment modality for dysphagia in post-stroke patients. In addition to a few studies completed in the U.S., over 100 studies have been conducted in China that document acupuncture's effectiveness in treating dysphagia.

Although the previous studies have all shown effective results, the parameters used to analyze swallow improvement were limited. We hypothesize that acupuncture improves the swallow function in dysphagia patients following acute stroke by:

  • Improving the speed of the swallow reflex;
  • Increasing the oral and pharyngeal sensation;
  • Improving the strength of motor function within the swallowing muscles; and
  • Decreasing the risk of aspiration.

Once we demonstrate acupuncture's clinical effectiveness with a pilot study, we will then pursue a larger scale study.

This study has been made possible by a grant from the Balm Foundation. We thank them for their generosity and support.