A Computational Model Quantifies the Effect of Anatomical Variability on Velopharyngeal Function Purpose This study predicted the effects of velopharyngeal (VP) anatomical parameters on VP function to provide a greater understanding of speech mechanics and aid in the treatment of speech disorders. Method We created a computational model of the VP mechanism using dimensions obtained from magnetic resonance imaging measurements ... Research Article
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Research Article  |   August 01, 2015
A Computational Model Quantifies the Effect of Anatomical Variability on Velopharyngeal Function
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Joshua M. Inouye
    University of Virginia, Charlottesville
  • Jamie L. Perry
    East Carolina University, Greenville, NC
  • Kant Y. Lin
    University of Virginia Health System, Charlottesville
  • Silvia S. Blemker
    University of Virginia, Charlottesville
  • Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.
    Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication. ×
  • Correspondence to Silvia S. Blemker: ssblemker@virginia.edu
  • Editor: Jody Kreiman
    Editor: Jody Kreiman×
  • Associate Editor: Kate Bunton
    Associate Editor: Kate Bunton×
Article Information
Speech / Research Articles
Research Article   |   August 01, 2015
A Computational Model Quantifies the Effect of Anatomical Variability on Velopharyngeal Function
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, August 2015, Vol. 58, 1119-1133. doi:10.1044/2015_JSLHR-S-15-0013
History: Received January 12, 2015 , Revised May 15, 2015 , Accepted May 20, 2015
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, August 2015, Vol. 58, 1119-1133. doi:10.1044/2015_JSLHR-S-15-0013
History: Received January 12, 2015; Revised May 15, 2015; Accepted May 20, 2015
Web of Science® Times Cited: 4

Purpose This study predicted the effects of velopharyngeal (VP) anatomical parameters on VP function to provide a greater understanding of speech mechanics and aid in the treatment of speech disorders.

Method We created a computational model of the VP mechanism using dimensions obtained from magnetic resonance imaging measurements of 10 healthy adults. The model components included the levator veli palatini (LVP), the velum, and the posterior pharyngeal wall, and the simulations were based on material parameters from the literature. The outcome metrics were the VP closure force and LVP muscle activation required to achieve VP closure.

Results Our average model compared favorably with experimental data from the literature. Simulations of 1,000 random anatomies reflected the large variability in closure forces observed experimentally. VP distance had the greatest effect on both outcome metrics when considering the observed anatomic variability. Other anatomical parameters were ranked by their predicted influences on the outcome metrics.

Conclusions Our results support the implication that interventions for VP dysfunction that decrease anterior to posterior VP portal distance, increase velar length, and/or increase LVP cross-sectional area may be very effective. Future modeling studies will help to further our understanding of speech mechanics and optimize treatment of speech disorders.

Acknowledgments
This study was supported by The Hartwell Foundation and the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders Grant 1R03DC009676-01A1. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health. The authors gratefully acknowledge useful discussions with Geoffrey Handsfield, support from Bradley P. Sutton and David P. Kuehn in the magnetic resonance imaging methods and developments, and support from Jillian Nyswonger in image analyses.
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