The ToP-SPA measures tongue-palate contact pressure occurring during speech and/or swallowing.
Researchers are interested in measuring tongue-palate contact pressure to help in the study of speech and swallowing activities. There have been attempts to measure tongue-palate contact pressure, however due to inappropriate transducer size and transducer response characteristics measurement validity was questionable and inefficient/costly pseudo-palate construction has limited the accessibility of the instrumentation for most researchers. The ToP-SPA overcomes these problems.
Potential uses for the ToP-SPA include: Speech and swallowing research in which a quantitative index of tongue strength during speech and swallowing is needed and clinically training a person to increase tongue to palate contact pressure during speech or swallowing.
The pressure transducer used in the ToP-SPA is capable of accurate measurement inside the mouth. The thin pseudo-palate and small transducers allow normal speech movements to occur. The researcher can place one or more of the small transducers on the pseudo-palate in any customized position. To do this, the pseudo-palate is removed from the mouth and the transducers are attached. The pseudo-palate is then easily placed back into the mouth to measure tongue-palate contact pressure.
The pressure transducer used in the ToP-SPA has appropriate response characteristics, temperature compensation, ability to sense accurately in a moist environment, and durability for extended use in speech research and training. The transducer has a small sensing surface, allowing the user to place one or several transducers on the palate. The small height of the pressure transducer allows for accurate measurement without significant interference with typical tongue movements. The pseudo-palate used in the ToP-SPA is constructed in one visit within seconds and without the need for dental casting. The material used in the construction of the pseudo-palate is cost effective, costing less than one dollar to construct. The pseudo-palate can be easily removed and then placed back into the mouth, allowing for easy transducer placement in customized positions.
The ToP-SPA transducer allows for the rapid movements of the tongue and other articulators during speech. Speech involves a moving airstream as well as body tissue contact with the transducer which may cause transient changes in the temperature of the transducer itself which can influence the pressure that is sensed. The ToP-SPA transducer has a built in temperature compensation feature to limit the possibility of inaccurate measurement. The transducer is also smaller than other transducers, ensuring that an accurate tongue-palate contact pressure measurement is taken. The ToP-SPA does not damage the transducers when removed and does not tear the oral mucosa since the transducers are attached to the pseudo-palate and not glued to the roof of the mouth or tongue. The ToP-SPA allows for an exact replication of transducer placement in the palate over repeated data collection sessions because transducer locations can be easily marked on the pseudo-palate. Multiple transducers are easily placed on the pseudo-palate as well. The ToP-SPA can be constructed in seconds and the material used in constructing the pseudo-palate costs less than one dollar.