In the United States, 14 million people have voice, speech or language problems. Each year, one million individuals in the U.S. experience a neurogenic impairment of speech (National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorder, 1995). Annually, $30 billion is spent on speech language pathology disorders (1995 NIH statistics).”Any number of diseases and disorders can affect facial muscle control,” said Joseph Spiegel, M.D., Associate Professor of Otolaryngology at Thomas Jefferson University. “Stroke is the most common cause of weakness of facial muscles, and is the most common cause of disability in the elderly. In children, articulation disorders involving the oral structure is the most common indication for speech therapy. Traumatic brain injury, Parkinson’s disease and developmental diseases also can cause loss of oral-facial strength and control.”Speech pathologists have long used basic therapies involving vowel sounds to help patients improve facial muscle control. These methods work, but are time intensive, and offer no measurable resistance.

“Resistance-based oral motor exercises are key to treating oral-motor disabilities,” said Judith Creed, M.A., CCC-SLP. “Currently the devices used to provide this resistance are relatively crude instruments, including whistles, tongue depressors and fingers. When used in conjunction with speech therapy, resistance exercise gives better results, allowing for more control over the exercise and the outcomes than ever before.”

Unlike simple facial exercise, dynamic progressive resistance exercise allows changes in oral-motor muscle strength to be precisely and objectively quantified by charting the change in a patient’s ability to perform an exercise against a specific level of resistance. In fact, clinical testing published in The Journal of Geriatric Dermatology confirmed that daily use of a resistive exercise device for eight weeks resulted in a 250 percent increase in facial muscle strength, a 32.5 percent average increase in facial skin tone and improved facial blood circulation.

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