Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

Pradeep Radhakrishnan, Advisor

Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

Onal D. Cagdas , Graduate Committee Rep

Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

John M. Sullivan, Committee Member

Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

Robert Daniello, Committee Member




The number of Total Glossectomy cases in the United States is seeing an increasing trend as per the Nationwide Inpatient Sample Database. Patients, who have undergone such aggressive surgical procedures, have extensive limitations performing basic oral functions such as swallowing (deglutition), eating and speaking. Current rehabilitation prostheses do little in restoring the functionality of the original tongue. This is true especially in deglutition, which is necessary to transfer a bolus to the esophagus. Such patients need advanced prosthetic devices and through this research, investigations into potential solutions for prosthetic tongues to aid in deglutition were carried out. The process began with an extensive literature review that provided tongue position, motion, and pressure data during the swallowing stages. Several potential designs were considered such as using linkages and pneumatic networks (PneuNets). Based on a decision matrix, PneuNets were adopted as the foundational basis for generating prosthetic designs. Several prototypes were fabricated using Fused Filament Disposition for mold development and silicone Eco-flex 00-30 for actuator development. Each iteration involved tackling several design and manufacturing challenges especially when scaling these actuators from an initial experiment to an anatomical shape and size of a human tongue. A tongue of dimensions 1.8 inches wide, 2.4 inches long and 0.24 inches thick was developed. The PneuNet actuator was powered by a pneumatic system and kinematic data was collected using a tracking software. The data gathered provided validation comparisons between position trends exhibited in the literature. Theoretical deflection models were generated for analyzing the deflection of the front, middle and back sections of the tongue prototype. Details from literature review, design iterations, simulations, validation processes, research challenges and conclusions will be discussed in depth.


Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Degree Name



Mechanical Engineering

Project Type


Date Accepted





PneuNets, prosthetic tongue, Total Glossectomy