The study team found that the mouth exercise programme using Therabite was acceptable by patients to use before and after radiotherapy but not during.
This study was open to people in the Royal Glamorgan Hospital, Wales between July 2014 and March 2015.
The results have been presented as a poster at several conferences.
About this study
11 people joined this study.
The people taking part were to use the mouth exercise programme with Therabite every day for 6 months. This began before starting radiotherapy, continued during radiotherapy and for a period after finishing radiotherapy.
Mouth opening measurements were taken before starting radiotherapy and then every month for 6 months.
- before treatment
- then at 3 months
- 6 months
At the end of the study the team did an informal ‘exit interview’. Patients were asked about their thoughts and feelings about:
- being in the study
- doing the mouth exercise programme
- using Therabite
Everyone found it acceptable to do the mouth exercise programme using Therabite before starting radiotherapy. And everyone was able to fully complete the programme every day.
During radiotherapy this acceptance fell to a third of the people (33%). And no one was able to fully complete the programme every day. The reasons for this included:
- tiredness (fatigue)
- other side effects caused by the radiotherapy
After radiotherapy everyone said it was acceptable to continue with the mouth exercise programme. And everyone was able to fully complete the programme every day.
How far people were able to open their moths did increase after 1 month of starting the programme.
It dropped again during radiotherapy due to the impact of treatment and its side effects.
And started to rise again after radiotherapy. By 6 months after treatment people were able to open their mouth nearly as far as they could before treatment started.
Quality of life
The researchers found there wasn’t a big difference in their quality of life before, during and after doing the mouth exercise programme.
The study team concluded that patients didn’t find the mouth exercise programme using Therabite fully acceptable during their radiotherapy. This was due to the side effects of radiotherapy.
They did say that starting the programme before treatment does appear to help with mouth opening. And that increasing how far patients can open their mouth before treatment gives them more ability to cope with the side effects of treatment.
The team also said this study showed it was possible to do a larger randomised clinical trial
. This would contribute to the information they already have. And help answer the question ‘whether using the mouth exercise programme with Therabite does help with moth opening problems caused by radiotherapy’.
As a result of this study the Royal Glamorgan Hospital has changed how they treat people with head and neck cancer. And these changes are to be rolled out across South Wales.
Where this information comes from
We have based this summary on information from the research team. The information they sent us has been reviewed by independent specialists (peer reviewed
) but may not have been published in a medical journal. The figures we quote above were provided by the research team. We have not analysed the data ourselves.