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01.12.2014 | Research | Ausgabe 1/2014 Open Access

Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation 1/2014

Medical tongue piercing – development and evaluation of a surgical protocol and the perception of procedural discomfort of the participants

Zeitschrift:
Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation > Ausgabe 1/2014
Autoren:
Bo Bentsen, Michael Gaihede, Romulus Lontis, Lotte NS Andreasen Struijk
Wichtige Hinweise

Competing interests

The authors declare that they do not have competing interests.

Authors’ contributions

BB participated in the planning of the protocol, the development of the surgical kit, the selection and information of participants, the clinical procedure, the course of observations, the evaluation of discomforts and the practical and technical procedures related to the piercings. MG participated in the planning of the protocol for the selection of participants, the clinical procedure, the course of observations, and the evaluation of discomforts as well as the practical procedures related to the piercings. ERL participated in the development of the usage of a piercing in a tongue control system. LNSAS raised funding for the study, participated in the planning of the protocol, the development of the usage of a piercing in a tongue control system, the selection of participants and in the planning of the clinical procedure and in the course of observations related to the direct contact to the subjects. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Abstract

Background

A system providing disabled persons with control of various assistive devices with the tongue has been developed at Aalborg University in Denmark. The system requires an activation unit attached to the tongue with a small piercing. The aim of this study was to establish and evaluate a safe and tolerable procedure for medical tongue piercing and to evaluate the expected and perceived procedural discomfort.

Methods

Four tetraplegic subjects volunteered for the study. A surgical protocol for a safe insertion of a tongue barbell piercing was presented using sterilized instruments and piercing parts. Moreover, post-procedural observations of participant complications such as bleeding, edema, and infection were recorded. Finally, procedural discomforts were monitored by VAS scores of pain, changes in taste and speech as well as problems related to hitting the teeth.

Results

The piercings were all successfully inserted in less than 5 min and the pain level was moderate compared with oral injections. No bleeding, infection, embedding of the piercing, or tooth/gingival injuries were encountered; a moderate edema was found in one case without affecting the speech. In two cases the piercing rod later had to be replaced by a shorter rod, because participants complained that the rod hit their teeth. The replacements prevented further problems. Moreover, loosening of balls was encountered, which could be prevented with the addition of dental glue. No cases of swallowing or aspiration of the piercing parts were recorded.

Conclusions

The procedure proved simple, fast, and safe for insertion of tongue piercings for tetraplegic subjects in a clinical setting. The procedure represented several precautions in order to avoid risks in these susceptible participants with possible co-morbidity. No serious complications were encountered, and the procedure was found tolerable to the participants. The procedure may be used in future studies with tongue piercings being a prerequisite for similar systems, and this may include insertion in an out-patient setting.

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