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Improving masticatory and swallowing ability of postoperative oral and maxillofacial tumor patients by telerehabilitation-A randomized controlled trial.

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the effect of telerehabilitation on oral function of oral and maxillofacial tumor patients.

DESIGN: Unicentral, single-blind, randomized controlled trial.

SETTING: Community.

SUBJECTS: Patients with primary oral and maxillofacial tumor receiving surgical treatment.

INTERVENTIONS: Telerehabilitation guidance from therapists.

MAIN MEASURES: At the beginning of training (T0) and 1 month (T1), 3 months (T2) and 6 months (T3) after training, patients' masticatory ability (mastication efficiency-masticatory performance evaluating gum, maximum bite force and mouth opening) and swallowing ability (water swallowing test) was measured. Modified Sato questionnaire and MD Anderson dysphagia inventory (MDADI) were used for self-evaluation of masticatory and swallowing ability.

RESULTS: A total of 64 participants (intervention: 33; control: 31) were included. The masticatory efficiency scores of the intervention group were significantly better than those of the control group at T2 (intervention: 3.67 (0.48); control: 3.03 (0.85)) and T3 (intervention: 4.20 (0.30); control: 3.50 (0.79)); and maximum mouth opening was better at T2 (intervention: 3.18 (0.59); control: 2.77 (0.54)) and T3 (intervention: 3.54 (0.58); control: 3.09 (0.41)). In water swallowing test, the intervention group had better scores at T2 and T3. The scores of MDADI scale in intervention group were better than those in the control group after 3 months of training. In subgroup analysis, the intervention group of oral cancer patients had better swallowing function at T2 and T3, but no significant difference was found in the subgroup of oropharyngeal cancer.

CONCLUSIONS: Telerehabilitation could greatly improve the long-term (3-6 months) training effect under the condition of greatly saving medical resources and reducing personnel contact.

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