NF1 and Velopharyngeal Insufficiency
Velopharyngeal insufficiency (VPI) is a resonance disorder that occurs during speech that results from the inability of the vellum (or soft palate) to meet with the nasopharynx (or the back of the throat). When a person has VPI, there is an incomplete closure between the velum and nasopharynx, forcing sound into the nasal cavity. VPI results in nasal sounding speech qualities called hypernasality and nasal air emission
One of the most common causes of VPI is cleft palate. Other causes of VPI include differences in the tonsils and adenoids, oral cavity tumors, or deficits that take place after surgery or head injury
Research has shown that individuals with NF1 may have hypernasality and/or VPI. One study found VPI to occur in 7.4% to 52% of patients with NF1. The exact cause of hypernasality and/or VPI in individuals with NF1 is unknown.
If determined that the speech disorder is due to VPI, an otolaryngologist, speech-language pathologist, and/or plastic surgeon may decide on treatment options in conjunction with the patient.
Thank you Kimberly Marrs, B.S., & Heather Thompson, Ph.D., CCC-SLP for contributing this article!
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