A finite element model of the soft palate

David A. Berry, Jerald B. Moon, David P. Kuehn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: As a step toward better understanding of normal and abnormal velar control, a finite element model of the soft palate was developed. Design: A static two-dimensional midsagittal model of the velum was given physical dimensions to match that of a 10-year-old boy. Biomechanical properties of the tissues were inferred based on previous histologic studies. Velar movements were induced by the influence of three extrinsic velar muscles: the levator veli palatini, the palatoglossus, and the palatopharyngeus, which were simulated as external forces acting on the velar model. Results and Conclusions: Velopharyngeal opened and closed positions were simulated as well as a variety of intermediate steps between the two configurations. Velopharyngeal closure was also simulated in a manner appropriate for both high and low vowels. Future extensions of the model will incorporate the muscles as an intrinsic component of the model and will include a full time-dependent implementation, including inertial effects. Future studies will compare model predictions with experimental data from the laboratory, including both kinematic data and velopharyngeal closure forces.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)217-223
Number of pages7
JournalCleft Palate-Craniofacial Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1999


  • Finite element model
  • Tissue mechanics
  • Velopharynx

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oral Surgery
  • Otorhinolaryngology


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