This advice-column-style blog for SLPs was authored by Pam Marshalla from 2006 to 2015, the archives of which can be explored here. Use the extensive keywords list found in the right-hand column (on mobile: at the bottom of the page) to browse specific topics, or use the search feature to locate specific words or phrases throughout the entire blog.
Oral Motor Activities and Seizures
By Pam Marshalla
Q: Could you give me specifics on what to avoid when doing oral motor work with children who have seizures? Of course, stopping treatment during the seizure and giving recovery time is essential. Anything else?
In regard to seizures and oral-motor activities:
- Stop treatment activities during seizures
- Avoid treatment activities that seem to cause seizures
- Allow the recovery time that the child needs to re-focus and process
- Avoid treatment activities that cause or contribute to fatigue
4 thoughts on “Oral Motor Activities and Seizures”
Could oral motor exercises cause a seizure? Is z-vibe contraindicated for children with a hx of seizures?
The term “oral motor exercise” means a thousand different things. It refers to everything from simply sticking out the tongue, to bouncing on a trampoline, to sucking on an ice cube. Many different sensory and motor activities can cause seizure activity. There the answer to your question is: Yes. Some activities designed to improve oral function might cause a seizure if applied by therapists untrained in the safety aspects of neuromuscular and sensory-motor therapy programs.
However, I think the real question you are asking is about vibration and its relationship to seizure activity. We should divide this into two questions:
(1) Can vibration cause seizure activity? I believe the answer to that is yes.
(2) Could a tool like the Z-Vibe, which is a vibratory tool, therefore cause seizure activity? I believe that the answer to that is yes as well.
In my personal therapy, I never use vibration in therapy with clients who have a history of seizure activity.
Further information about the relationship between vibration and seizure activity should be address to an occupational therapist, physical therapist, or neurologist trained in these matters.
Can you reference a research article that mentions the contraindication of using vibration with students who have seizure disorders? I have a parent that wants to use oral vibration with a very low cognitive student (dependent for all aspects of life) who is currently taking seizure meds and has a history of seizures. I have long been instructed as an OT not to use vibration especially to the mouth area with students who have a history of seizures.
Thank you so much.
Hi Pam. Can you direct me to any literature or research regarding the use of vibration with students who have a history of seizures? I am an OT in a school district that works with several students who have a history of seizures. My practice has been precautionary, and I do not use vibration with these students however, I am getting push back from parents. Can you please advise. Thank you.