Head and Neck Surgery Functional Assessment Laboratory (HNSFAL)
The Head and Neck Surgery Functional Assessment Laboratory (HNSFAL) was established at iRSM in 2000 to address treatment outcomes in patients with defects of the head and neck.
Cancer surgery, adjunctive cancer treatment such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy, or severe trauma of the head and neck may have considerable impact on an individual’s oral function (speech, chewing, swallowing) and senses (taste, smell) thereby affecting quality of life. Clinical activity and research within the Head and Neck Surgery Functional Assessment Laboratory (HNSFAL) address treatment outcomes related to surgical tumor removal and surgical reconstruction in the head and neck region, adjunctive therapy for patients with head and neck cancer, and prosthodontic rehabilitation for patients with defects of the head and neck. Work in the laboratory addresses clinically-driven assessment and patient-perceptual assessment. This approach is directed at treatment outcomes and the impact on quality of life.
Collaborative research is at the core of all activities within the HNSFAL. Collaborative clinical research associations have been developed with surgeons from both Head and Neck Surgery and Plastic Surgery at the University of Alberta Hospital, radiation oncologists from the Cross Cancer Institute, prosthodontists from the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry and speech scientists from the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine at the University of Alberta. Collaborative efforts with researchers from the Department of Mechanical Engineering in the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Alberta have been developed and will be vital in developing the future direction of the laboratory. Through the HNSFAL, several interdisciplinary research projects on functional outcomes after both prosthetic rehabilitation and surgical reconstruction in patients with head and neck cancer were completed. These research efforts have directed modifications of both surgical and prosthodontic interventions and have lead to improvement of functional outcomes in our patient populations.