The respiratory tract, in other words, the airway, is the primary airflow path for several physiological activities such as coughing, breathing, and sneezing. Diseases can impact airway functionality through various means including cancer of the head and neck, Neurological disorders such as Parkinson's disease, and sleep disorders and all of which are considered in this study. In this dissertation, numerical modeling techniques were used to simulate three distinct airway diseases: a weak cough leading to aspiration, upper airway patency in obstructive sleep apnea, and tongue cancer in swallow disorders. The work described in this dissertation, therefore, divided into three biomechanical models, of which fluid and particulate dynamics model of cough is the first. Cough is an airway protective mechanism, which results from a coordinated series of respiratory, laryngeal, and pharyngeal muscle activity. Patients with diminished upper airway protection often exhibit cough impairment resulting in aspiration pneumonia. Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) technique was used to simulate airflow and penetrant behavior in the airway geometry reconstructed from Computed Tomography (CT) images acquired from participants. The second study describes Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) and the effects of dilator muscular activation on the human retro-lingual airway in OSA. Computations were performed for the inspiration stage of the breathing cycle, utilizing a fluid-structure interaction (FSI) method to couple structural deformation with airflow dynamics. The spatiotemporal deformation of the structures surrounding the airway wall was predicted and found to be in general agreement with observed changes in luminal opening and the distribution of airflow from upright to supine posture. The third study describes the effects of cancer of the tongue base on tongue motion during swallow. A three-dimensional biomechanical model was developed and used to calculate the spatiotemporal deformation of the tongue under a sequence of movements which simulate the oral stage of swallow.
Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
College of Engineering and Computer Science
Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Length of Campus-only Access
Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)
Kuruppumullage, Don Nadun, "Biomechanical Models of Human Upper and Tracheal Airway Functionality" (2018). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 5828.