Researchers from New York University’s Steinhardt School have suggested that face transplant surgery could improve speech capabilities for individuals with severe facial injuries. The study focused on a single patient who underwent the treatment at NYU Langone Health’s Face Transplant Program, the first of its kind in New York.
The team employed optical tracking, a type of motion-tracking technology, to examine how the surgery impacts facial movements and speech output. They compared data from the patient, who suffered third and fourth-degree burns in a fire, with four adult men who had no facial injuries.
Evaluations were made before, during, and after the operation. Researchers observed improvements in the patient’s lip and jaw movements, as well as the intelligibility of his speech over time.
This study adds to the limited body of research on speech production outcomes after face transplantation. To date, only 41 facial transplant surgeries have been conducted globally. The study hints at the potential benefits of the intensive procedure for enhancing speech in patients with severe facial injuries.