We have developed approaches to assess facial and soft tissue movements applied to patients with craniofacial deformities and disorders.

Our work has focused on using three dimensional imaging equipment, such as a motion analysis program, camera systems for both 2-Dimensional and 3-Dimensional, and three video camcorders to capture extensive data on diagnosed patients.

The Facial Animation Laboratory is currently investigating two major craniofacial issues: facial paralysis and cleft lip/palate surgery.




Cleft lip and cleft palate are among the most common birth defects that occur during pregnancy and can result in feeding problems, speech problems, hearing problems, and frequent ear infections.

Patients born with cleft lip/palate may undergo numerous and extensive soft tissue surgeries in attempt to normalize the facial features. Residual scarring as a result of these surgeries limits the optimum esthetic results. Patients also remain with a facial disfigurement and impairment particularly in facial expressive behaviors.




A) A lip revision patient's profile view from three different angles of the face, while opening
the mouth as a facial animation movement. The vectors show where the markers were displaced as well
as the length traveled when patient made animation movement.
B) Patient movement markers seen in red versus control mean in black during maximum mouth open 

With the static and dynamic measures developed, we hypothesize this will provide surgeons with a tool to more accurately asses the extent of impairment and degree of disfigurement, and ultimately tailor revision surgeries to a patient’s individual needs.





Retro-reflective markers secured to specific facial landmarks and is used to capture kinematic
data of the facial soft tissue from patients during a series of set facial animations designed
to illuminate the area of interest.

Facial paralysis is loss of facial movement due to nerve damage. The facial disfigurement and impairment in soft tissue movements not only impact facial esthetics and function, but also patients’ social and emotional quality of life.

Treatments range from nonsurgical interventions and facial reanimation surgery to new implantable facial pacing devices that would potentially initiate artificial movements on the paralyzed side of the face. Traditionally surgeons’ plan treatment based on isolated measurements from 2D photographs and subjective grading of the patient’s face.

Our research group has demonstrated the utility of novel 3D dynamic and static quantitative measures for the evaluation of facial soft tissue function. The global hypothesis is that the use of the measures will provide a more comprehensive analysis of the severity of facial paralysis and the changes over time when compared with current assessment methods.


Patient with facial paralysis on right side of face captured making a smile animation. Maximum smile
of patient seen in red versus the control mean in black.