A three-dimensional biomechanical model of tissue deformation was developed to simulate dynamic vocal fold abduction and adduction. The model was made of 1721 nearly incompressible finite elements. The cricoarytenoid joint was modeled as a rocking–sliding motion, similar to two concentric cylinders. The vocal ligament and the thyroarytenoid muscle’s fiber characteristics were implemented as a fiber–gel composite made of an isotropic ground substance imbedded with fibers. These fibers had contractile and/or passive nonlinear stress–strain characteristics. The verification of the model was made by comparing the range and speed of motion to published vocal fold kinematic data. The model simulated abduction to a maximum glottal angle of about 31°. Using the posterior-cricoarytenoid muscle, the model produced an angular abduction speed of 405° per second. The system mechanics seemed to favor abduction over adduction in both peak speed and response time, even when all intrinsic muscle properties were kept identical. The model also verified the notion that the vocalis and muscularis portions of the thyroarytenoid muscle play significantly different roles in posturing, with the muscularis portion having the larger effect on arytenoid movement. Other insights into the mechanisms of abduction/adduction were given.

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