At Odom Rehab, we are seeing amazing results with many of our patients experiencing low breath support or difficulties swallowing. These are often people with Parkinson’s Disease or Dysphagia but also includes those with MS, ALS and others who have experienced a spinal cord injury or stroke.

An EMST (Expiratory-Muscle-Strength-Trainer) device trains respiratory muscle strength in these patients. The mouthpiece of the device is inserted so that it sits just behind the patient’s teeth—this creates a seal around the EMST with the lips. The patient breathes out as hard and as fast as they can for approximately 1 second. If air goes through, resistance is increased until it becomes too difficult to blow into. The patient then continues to repeat breaths at this resistance level for 5 sets of 5 repetitions.

Studies are finding just how effective EMST is. A 2017 study, The Impact of Expiratory Muscle Strength Training on Speech Breathing in Individuals With Parkinson’s Disease: A Preliminary Study, focused just on people with Parkinson’s Disease. The study concluded that EMST successfully increased expiratory muscle strength in a majority of participants.

Stronger expiratory muscle strength can help patients produce a more effective cough to clear the airway, help increase respiratory support for speech production and increase muscle movement during swallows.

It’s probably no surprise that at Odom we’ve found that a single therapy solution is not as effective as combining a few different complementary therapy practices. The study points this out as well, stating that integrating EMST with behavioral speech intervention may result in greater intervention outcomes than that of either treatment alone.

All of us at Odom are excited when we find solutions that are truly game changers for our patients, and EMST is often one of those solutions.  Feel free to contact us if you or anyone you know may benefit from this therapy.