Post-operative speech and swallowing in partial glossectomy patients: role of effective rehabilitation

Shailesh Kumar Jain, Poonam Raj, S. K. Singh, Rajeev Chugh, D. K. Gupta, Sunil Goyal


Background: The tongue is a frequent site for oral carcinoma. Quality of life in such patients is often compromised post treatment in terms of speech and swallowing functions. Although swallowing and speech are included in several health-related quality of life scales, postoperative rehabilitation that influences these domains is not very well studied. This study was conducted to assess the speech and swallowing impairment after partial glossectomy for the tongue cancer patients and role of speech therapy and swallowing rehabilitation exercises in effective postoperative rehabilitation.

Methods: 50 patients of carcinoma of the tongue managed with partial glossectomy as the definitive treatment were included in the study. Postoperative rehabilitation was offered to all patients, however 10 defaulted. Improvement in speech intelligibility, articulation and swallowing at 15 days, 1 month, 3 months and 06 months after surgery were recorded.  

Results: All three parameters of speech intelligibility, articulation and swallowing which were analysed showed improvements during each follow-up visit. Results obtained for both groups, on comparison showed statistically significant earlier improvement in patients who were receiving rehabilitation therapy versus those who were not receiving any rehabilitation.

Conclusions: Postop speech and swallowing rehabilitation can be an effective tool for improving quality of life. It is imperative to develop easy and simple modules for rehabilitation for patients of oral cancers that can be practiced during the postop follow up and at home with the assistance of family members to ensure uncompromised quality of life post treatment.


Oral cancers, Speech intelligibility, Articulation, Swallowing, Rehabilitation

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