This advice-column-style blog for SLPs was authored by Pam Marshalla from 2006 to 2015, the archives of which can be explored here. Use the extensive keywords list found in the right-hand column (on mobile: at the bottom of the page) to browse specific topics, or use the search feature to locate specific words or phrases throughout the entire blog.
Q: Do you know anything about the Lip Trainer? Do you think it has any uses in articulation therapy?
I have not used a Lip Trainer, however, it looks just like another version of the Lip Gym, which I have used to increase action of the orbicularis oris (OO). These types of devices can be used to facilitate action of the OO. Two basic methods of muscle stimulation are employed: Stretching and Resistance.
A muscle is stretched to activate its contraction response. Stretching can facilitate action of a muscle when it is not responding, or when it is responding slowly or weakly.
We resist the direction that a body part is purposefully moving in order to increase the workload of the muscles involved. In other words, resistance causes muscles to work harder. This also facilitates greater awareness and control of body part movement.
Stretching and resistance are standard therapy methods used by OT’s and PT’s that therapists who do “oral motor techniques” have adapted to the oral mechanism for speech and feeding.
These devises put stretch and resistance on the OO. We put a slight lateral stretch on the OO to stimulate its contraction. And we resist contraction of the OO to make the muscle group work harder. Clients with low tone benefit from these devices — that means certain motor speech kids where low oral tone is the main issue.
These types of methods were first recommended for speech correction for clients with cerebral palsy. For example, Morley (1957), McDonald and Chance (1964), Crickmay (1966), Mysak (1980), Bosley (1981). They later were adapted to articulation therapy by people who began the oral-motor movement in the 1970’s.
Always keep in mind: It is not the devise that is the solution to a treatment issue. It is the goal, or the aim, of the treatment method.
Therefore both devises, the Lip Gym and the Lip Trainer, may facilitate action of the OO, but so what? Articulation therapy is always much more than simply stimulating muscle function. Articulation therapy also is about making a client aware of why he needs to put his lips together, and teaching him to hear the differences in phoneme production that result from the new action. It also involves phoneme practice, word practice, habituation activities, carryover, and so forth.
In other words, a Lip Trainer or Lip Gym might stimulate muscle function, but it will not facilitate correct phoneme production.
I have no photos of these products to put on this website because of copyright protections, but they can be viewed at:
No Budget for Products?
If you have no money to purchase either of these devices, simply have kids use their fingers. Have them put their index fingertips inside their lips, one on each side, and pull the lips laterally — just like kids do to make faces to one another. Then have them pucker while pulling the lips laterally. This is a much cheaper way of stretching the OO.
- Bosley, E. C. (1981) Techniques for Articulatory Disorders. Springfield: Charles C. Thomas.
- Crickmay, M. C. (1966) Speech therapy and the Bobath approach to cerebral palsy. Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas.
- Marshalla, P. (1995) Oral-Motor Techniques in Articulation and Phonological Therapy. Kirkland, WA: Marshalla Speech and Language.
- McDonald, E. T., & Chance, B. (1964) Cerebral Palsy. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall.
- Morley, M. (1957) The Development and Disorders of Speech in Childhood. Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins.
- Mysak, E. D. (1980). Neurospeech Therapy for the Cerebral Palsied: A Neuroevolutional Approach. NY: Teachers College Press.