Understanding Infant Swallowing Through the Use of Animal Models All infant mammals suckle, the anatomy of the oral cavity, tongue, and oropharynx being functionally homologous in both human and nonhuman infant mammals. Animal models are consequently very useful for increasing our understanding of infant swallowing. Animal models have the major advantage that procedures, unacceptable in humans, are permissible ... Article
Article  |   June 01, 2001
Understanding Infant Swallowing Through the Use of Animal Models
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • R.Z. German
    Department of Biological Sciences and Pediatrics, University of Cincinnati
Article Information
Articles
Article   |   June 01, 2001
Understanding Infant Swallowing Through the Use of Animal Models
SIG 13 Perspectives on Swallowing and Swallowing Disorders (Dysphagia), June 2001, Vol. 10, 3-5. doi:10.1044/sasd10.2.3
SIG 13 Perspectives on Swallowing and Swallowing Disorders (Dysphagia), June 2001, Vol. 10, 3-5. doi:10.1044/sasd10.2.3
All infant mammals suckle, the anatomy of the oral cavity, tongue, and oropharynx being functionally homologous in both human and nonhuman infant mammals. Animal models are consequently very useful for increasing our understanding of infant swallowing. Animal models have the major advantage that procedures, unacceptable in humans, are permissible in animals (e.g., chronically implanted EMG electrodes, high speed cinera-diography, insertion of radio-opaque markers in the tongue, velum and epiglottis, regulation and variations in feeding regimes, and repeated data collection with controlled sample sizes and replications). Finally, the ability to collect extensive data on normal function in non-compromised infants is only possible in nonhumans. Kramer (1991)  points out the importance of understanding “normal growth and age-related changes in anatomical structures and relationships and normal maturation in neuromuscular function “to interpreting dysphagia and feeding abnormalities in children.” In order to evaluate an abnormal swallow optimally and to propose the most effective treatment and rehabilitation, an integrated model of the kinematics and the neural pattern of motor activity is required. The quality and detail of understanding of normal function is, consequently, critical to the level of treatment and care for dysfunctional situations.
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