Changes in articulatory control pre– and post–facial transplant: A case report

Maria I. Grigos, Étoile Leblanc, Christina Hagedorn, J. Rodrigo Diaz-Siso, Natalie Plana, Eduardo D. Rodriguez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Facial transplantation involves partial or total replacement of neuromuscular and skeletal structures of the face, head, and neck using donor tissues and is among the most extensive facial reconstructive procedures. This case report compares changes in speech production and articulator movement in a 44-year-old man from pretransplant to a 13-month posttransplant period. Method: Speech production and articulator movement data were examined at 5 time points, once pretransplant and 4 times posttransplant (4, 7, 10, and 13 months), and compared to 4 healthy controls. A motion capture system was used to track jaw and vertical/horizontal lip movement during nonspeech and speech tasks. Speech intelligibility, jaw displacement, lip aperture, and movement variability were measured. Results: Speech intelligibility varied across the study period and was restored to control status by 7 months posttransplant. Jaw displacement and lip aperture in the vertical plane significantly increased over time for nonspeech and speech tasks. Changes in horizontal lip movements over time were minimal. Jaw and lip movement variability fluctuated over time and was greater than the controls by 13 months posttransplant. Discussion: Findings quantify changes in articulator movement and contributions to improved speech production following facial transplant. Changes reflect the adaptability of the speech motor system and are discussed in relation to pretransplant speech motor control patterns.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)297-306
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


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