Research Article| Volume 28, ISSUE 4, P411-419, July 2014

Computational Study of Effects of Tension Imbalance on Phonation in a Three-Dimensional Tubular Larynx Model



      The present study explores the use of a continuum-based computational model to investigate the effect of left-right tension imbalance on vocal fold (VF) vibrations and glottal aerodynamics, as well as its implication on phonation. The study allows us to gain new insights into the underlying physical mechanism of irregularities induced by VF tension imbalance associated with unilateral cricothyroid muscle paralysis.


      A three-dimensional simulation of glottal flow and VF dynamics in a tubular laryngeal model with tension imbalance was conducted by using a coupled flow-structure interaction computational model. Tension imbalance was modeled by reducing by 20% the Young's modulus of one of the VFs, while holding VF length constant. Effects of tension imbalance on vibratory characteristic of the VFs and on the time-varying properties of glottal airflow as well as the aerodynamic energy transfer are comprehensively analyzed.

      Results and Conclusions

      The analysis demonstrates that the continuum-based biomechanical model can provide a good description of phonatory dynamics in tension imbalance conditions. It is found that although 20% tension imbalance does not have noticeable effects on the fundamental frequency, it does lead to a larger glottal flow leakage and asymmetric vibrations of the two VFs. A detailed analysis of the energy transfer suggests that the majority of the energy is consumed by the lateral motion of the VFs and the net energy transferred to the softer fold is less than the one transferred to the normal fold.

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