PALATAL LIFT PROSTHESIS
This is a prosthesis that addresses a condition referred to as palatopharyngeal incompetence. Palatopharyngeal incompetence broadly refers to a muscular inability to sufficiently close the port between the nasopharynx and oropharynx during speech and/or swallowing. An inability to adequately close the palatopharyngeal port during speech results in hypernasalance that, depending upon its severity, can render speakers difficult to understand or unintelligible.The potential for compromised intelligibility secondary to hypernasalance is underscored when consideration is given to the fact that only three English language phonemes – /m/, /n/, and /ng/ – are pronounced with an open palatopharyngeal port. Furthermore, an impaired ability to effect a closure of the palatopharyngeal port while swallowing can result in the nasopharyngeal regurgitation of liquid or solid boluses.
A palatal lift prosthesis addresses palatopharyngeal incompetence by physically displacing the dysfunctional soft palate in the hope of closing the palatopharyngeal port enough to mitigate hypernasal speech and/or prevent nasopharyngeal regurgitation of liquids or solids during the pharyngeal phase of swallowing. A palatal lift prosthesis consists of an oral component that stabilizes and secures the prosthesis and an oropharyngeal extension that superiorly and posteriorly displaces the impaired soft palate.
Dr. Aragon has successfully treated patients with palatopharyngeal incompetence using this prosthesis when surgery is not an option.