The aim of this research carried out in 2010 was to find ways to improve the results of cleft palate surgery and reduce the need for further operations and speech therapy by increasing our understanding of the muscles which move the soft palate. The soft palate plays a very important role in speech - the muscles in it need to lift the palate to close against the back of the throat to make almost all the sounds in speech.

There are four muscles in the soft palate but we don't yet fully understand how they all work together. These muscles are very small but they are crucial for talking and swallowing. Using the operating microscope (which was pioneered by the North Thames Cleft Service team) allows these muscles to be seen and repaired much more accurately. They are abnormally positioned in a cleft palate and need to be repositioned and joined up.

CLEFT is currently seeking funding to support further research to learn more about the structure of the muscles of soft palate and how they function in order to refine surgical techniques to improve the outcome of repairs. This should result in better speech outcomes for the children treated and reduce the need for further painful surgery.