• Leonard, Rebecca J (PI)

Project: Research project

Project Details


Orofacial cancer and its treatment can produce disfigurement, serious
deficits in speech and numerous problems related to food and airway
management. Preliminary research has demonstratad that a prosthetic
approach to patient rehabilitation may lead to significant improvements in
some or all of these areas. Namely, an artifical tongue specifically
designed to improve speech and food management in a total glossectomy
patient lead to a 25-30% improvement in the patient's conversational speech
intelligibility, and eliminated the need for tube feeding. Further
research which incorporates and elaborates the principles of speech
analysis used in designing the prosthetic tongue could lead to improved
speech in other orofacial cancer patients. In this research project, a
small number of patients with total or partial glosssectomy, unilateral
maxillectomy or more extensive unilateral facial excisions will be
subjected to detailed speech and dental evaluations by a speech pathologist
and a maxillofacial prosthodontist, respectively. Based on these
evaluations, prosthetic appliances which enable each patient to more
closely approximate normal vocal tract dynamics and/or acoustics during
speech will be designed and fabricated. Analyses of the prostheses'
effects on each patient's speech will be followed by revisions in
prosthesis design when the data indicate further improvements in speech may
be possible. Specific prosthesis variables to be investigated, in addition
to size/shape parameters, include type of fabrication material utilized,
and whether the prosthesis is solid or hollow. Results of the study are
expected to provide information useful to refining and expediting the
design of speech prostheses in selected orofacial cancer patients.
Further, results will provide a data base critical to a larger-scale
investigation into speech characteristics and the potential of prosthetic
rehabilitation in other orofacial cancer patients, computer-implemented
techniques of prosthesis design based or "a priori" acoustic and anatomical
information regarding an individual patient and, in the case of glossal
prostheses, the potential for a prosthesis capable of limited, active
Effective start/end date1/1/8412/31/85


  • National Institutes of Health


  • Medicine(all)
  • Dentistry(all)


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