Speech Intelligibility of Patients With Cleft Lip and Palate After Placement of Speech Prosthesis

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Objective:To evaluate the speech intelligibility of patients with clefts before and after placement of a speech prosthesis.Design:Cross-sectional.Setting:Hospital for Rehabilitation of Craniofacial Anomalies, University of São Paulo (HRAC/USP), Bauru, Brazil.Patients:Twenty-seven patients with unoperated cleft palate or operated cleft palate presenting with velopharyngeal insufficiency (VPI) after primary palatoplasty, treated with speech prosthesis, aged 8 to 63 years.Interventions:Patients were fitted with palatopharyngeal obturators or pharyngeal bulbs, suitable to their dental needs. Five speech-language pathologists blindly evaluated speech samples of the patients with and without the prosthesis.Main Outcome Measures:Classification of speech samples according to a scoring system developed for speech intelligibility problems: 1 (normal), 2 (mild), 3 (mild to moderate), 4 (moderate), 5 (moderate to severe), and 6 (severe). Results were evaluated by the calculation of means of all judges for each patient in both situations.Results:The judges presented significant agreement (W = .789,p < .01). Speech intelligibility was significantly better after placement of the prosthesis for both unoperated patients (Z = 1.93,p = .02) and operated patients with VPI after primary palatoplasty (Z = 1.78,p = .03).Conclusions:Speech intelligibility may be improved by rehabilitation of patients with cleft palate using a speech prosthesis. Speech therapy is needed to eliminate any compensatory articulation productions developed prior to prosthetic management.

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