Our research program is directed at understanding how physiological and structural properties of muscles and the central and peripheral nervous systems change with aging, surgery, diseases and disorders, and how these changes may influence properties of voice production, speech, and swallowing. Our ultimate interest is the manner in which behavioral, medical, or surgical treatment may affect change in function and quality of life. We have developed a research program within this overall framework that involves techniques from the basic sciences and human clinical sciences, especially in patient-centered research regarding perceptions of health quality and its measurement.
We have three primary areas of concentration. First, we engage in translational studies of upper airway structure and physiology using animal models. These studies focus on aspects of age-related decline, and decline due to disease states, in voice and swallowing and potential changes in components of these functions with rehabilitation. Our rehabilitation models include electrical stimulation and behavioral exercise. Second, we are developing innovative technology for the treatment of post-surgical tissue disruption and poorly healing wounds due to head and neck cancer treatment. Third, we perform human clinical studies regarding treatment adherence, patient reported outcomes (PROs) and health-related quality of life. This work has involved a variety of participants, including patients with head and neck cancer, children with voice disorders, and healthy adults in our community.