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Expiratory Muscle Strength Training in People with Head and Neck Cancer

By Associate Professor Anna Miles

We are pleased to announce the recipients of the National Research Grant Round 2023

Associate Professor Anna Miles

Read about Associate Professor Anna Miles , one of our grant recipients.

Associate Professor Anna Miles 

Expiratory Muscle Strength Training in People with Head and Neck Cancer following Radiation 

There has been a significant increase in head and neck cancers in New Zealand in the last 20 years with 80-90% of cancers caused by Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). While treatments are often lifesaving, almost all patients who receive radiation treatment for their head and neck cancer will have some degree of permanent swallowing and voice change with a significant impact on their long-term quality of life. Expiratory muscle strength training (EMST) has been used for respiratory and swallow rehabilitation primarily in patients with neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease. Research in our laboratory suggests that EMST improves airway closure and airway clearance, which is critical for safe and efficient swallowing and voicing. This study will evaluate the use of EMST in patients with head and neck cancers who receive radiation. This easy-to-use and cost-effective device can be used independently. If effective, it will support equitable New Zealand health outcomes irrespective of where patients live.