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Emerging Scientist: Examining Exercise-Based Therapies For Voice And Swallow Disorders With A Neuroplastic Eye

Allison J. Schaser

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Exercise-based therapies are currently used to treat voice and swallow disorders without a clear understanding of the mechanisms that alter the cranial neuromuscular system. The recent application of principles of neuroplasticity to rehabilitation has revolutionized how we think about treatment, highlighting the need for change in both behavior and neural substrates to create lasting benefits. It is difficult, however, to study neural substrates in human patients while controlling for factors that may influence plasticity, such as genetic and environmental differences. The use of a rat model allows these controls. My research aims to further our understanding of the neuroplastic potential of exercise in the cranial sensorimotor system with the ultimate long-term and future goal of guiding care of individuals with voice and swallow problems. This work is significant because it examines the neuroplastic potential of exercise in the cranial sensorimotor system in both muscle and the central nervous system, along with the enduring effects of exercise with the long-term and future goal of using my results to guide current therapy timelines and protocols used in clinical populations with voice and swallow problems.