A recent study has demonstrated that acupuncture combined with neuromuscular electrical stimulation and rehabilitation exercises is an effective treatment for restoration of the swallowing function when dysphagia (defined as a disorder involving difficulty or discomfort when swallowing) has occurred following craniocerebral injuries; injuries involving both the brain and the cranium. The acupuncture practice is based on traditional Chinese medicine.
This shows a similar outcome to a study in 2010 where neuromuscular electrical stimulation was found to help stroke victims swallow. This second news article states that 75% of stroke sufferers are left drooling or choking on foods and drinks because they have lost their swallowing function. It is well known that improving the swallowing function in stroke patients can significantly improve their quality of life. This same improvement will apply to the aforementioned craniocerebral injury patients.
Both acupuncture and neuromuscular electrical stimulation are thought to be easy and quick to deliver to patients, and they also require very little patient adherence. This suggests that they may be used concomitantly in the future to help patients with swallowing difficulties.