Introduction: Effortful swallow (ES) is a widely used technique in dysphagia management, believed to strengthen oropharyngeal muscles and enhance swallowing safety and efficiency. Although its impact on the oral phase of swallowing is well documented, its effects on pharyngeal swallowing physiology remain inconsistent. This study aimed to elucidate the effects of ES on swallowing kinematics and timing, addressing existing inconsistencies in the literature. Methods: This study involved 22 healthy adults using archived videofluoroscopic swallowing studies. Participants performed three swallow trials of 10 mL puree under regular conditions and with the ES maneuver. The outcome measures comprised swallow timing and kinematic measures. Swallow timing parameters included time to maximum hyoid and laryngeal excursion, laryngeal vestibule closure (LVC) reaction and duration, pharyngeal constriction duration, pharyngoesophageal segment (PES) opening duration, and swallow duration. Swallow kinematic parameters encompassed hyoid and laryngeal excursions, pharyngeal constriction ratio, and maximum PES width. All variables were analyzed via videofluoroscopy. Paired t tests were used to examine the effect of ES on each outcome measure, with a significance threshold set at p < 0.004. Results: The ES maneuver significantly increased the duration of LVC, pharyngeal constriction, PES opening, and overall swallow duration. It also improved the pharyngeal constriction ratio. However, there were no significant changes in hyoid and laryngeal excursions. Submental muscle activity showed a notable increase during ES. Conclusion: The study demonstrates that ES can effectively modify certain temporal and kinematic aspects of swallowing, particularly by prolonging key phases and enhancing pharyngeal constriction. These findings suggest the potential utility of ES in dysphagia rehabilitation, especially in cases that require prolonged pharyngeal constriction, LVC, and PES opening. However, the limited impact on hyoid and laryngeal excursions along with LVC reaction time indicates that ES may not address all aspects of dysphagia. The findings highlight the need for tailored therapeutic approaches in dysphagia management, considering individual physiological impairment profiles.

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