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Speech & Hearing Science :: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The Department of Speech & Hearing Science
College of Applied Health Sciences

Velopharyngeal MRI Research

Dr. Kuehn and Youkyung working on a mock MRI machine

Research Summary

Professor Kuehn's research revolves around speech difficulties encountered by individuals born with cleft lip and palate, the most common birth defect in the United States affecting approximately one of every 600 births. Without proper surgical reconstruction of the palatal defect, speech is severely impaired and may be largely unintelligible. Even with surgical management during infancy, significant speech disability may persist.

Professor Kuehn uses magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in his research to understand how anatomical components of the palate and upper pharynx, particularly the musculature, differ in individuals born with cleft palates compared to individuals born with intact palates. State-of-the-art MRI equipment at the Biomedical Imaging Center (BIC) on the south edge of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign campus is used to conduct the ongoing research.

MRI machine being set up

In other research, Professor Kuehn leads colleagues in several different countries in formulating universal measures that characterize the speech of individuals born with cleft palate regardless of the native language of the affected individuals. This research is important in studying speech outcomes in large-scale clinical trials that rely on consistent standards of measurement for valid comparisons among different treatment approaches.

Contact Information

Dr. David P. Kuehn, Ph.D.
901 South Sixth St.
Champaign, IL 61820

Phone:(217) 244-2555
Fax:(217) 244-2235

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