• Leonard, Rebecca J (PI)

Project: Research project

Project Details


Orofacial cancer and its sequelae can produce disfigurement,
serious problems related to food and airway management, and
severe speech impairment. The intent of this project is to
thoroughly describe the speech characteristics of a wide variety
of orofacial cancer patients, including those with partial or total
glossectomy, mandibulectomy, maxillectomy and/or more
extensive facial excisions. Data obtained from analyses of
acoustic, aerodynamic, biomechanical and perceptual
characteristics of speech in these patients will provide the basis
for attempts to model both the nature and degree of speech
impairment in orofacial cancer. An additional objective is to
evaluate, within each resection category, the effects on speech of
variables such as pre- or post-surgical radiation, type of
reconstructive procedure and post-treatment sensory-motor
integrity of the oral complex. It is expected that information
resulting from these studies will direct the formulation of
principles useful to the prognostic and therapeutic management of
speech rehabilitation in this patient population. In particular,
observed effects of vocal tract alterations will be incorporated in
the design of speech prostheses in selected patients. Though
individual patient differences must be accounted for, it is
anticipated that principles extracted from the proposed initial
studies of speech will ultimately enable the computer-assisted
design of speech prostheses on an "a priori" basis. That is, "input"
regarding an individual's unique anatomical and physiological
circumstances, related to knowledge of vocal tract parameters
critical to the normalization of speech, will lead to a
prosthetically modified vocal tract (computer simulated) which
could be tested for speech "output" prior to the actual fabrication
of a prosthesis. Evaluation of each prosthesis' effects on speech
will be followed by revisions and further evaluation in order to
refine and elaborate this process. A final objective, also
dependent on the outcome of preliminary studies, will be and
investigation of the potential for movement in certain types of
glossal prostheses. Insights gained from the successful completion
of some or all of the study objectives outlined here could restore
communicative power to patients whose loss of speech skills is
often extremely debilitating and, in fact, a serious deterrent to
all aspects of rehabilitation.
Effective start/end date5/1/874/30/92


  • National Institutes of Health
  • National Institutes of Health
  • National Institutes of Health
  • National Institutes of Health
  • National Institutes of Health
  • National Institutes of Health


  • Medicine(all)


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