Facial Animation Laboratory

Welcome to the Facial Animation Laboratory! Thank you for taking the time to learn more about our exciting research and our state-of-the-art methods for collecting important data to help individuals diagnosed with Facial Paralysis and Cleft Lip and Palate.

About the Lab

The Facial Animation Laboratory team at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine is currently working on two federal grants, both funded by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research.  Principal Investigator, Dr. Carroll Ann Trotman, is investigating two major craniofacial issues: facial paralysis and cleft lip and palate surgery.Located at 75 Kneeland Street in downtown Boston, we collect extensive data on patients diagnosed with acute Facial Paralysis and patients with Cleft Lip and Palate using three-dimensional imaging equipment.

The focus of the research conducted in the Facial Animation Laboratory is on the development and use of objective measures to assess outcomes of soft tissue surgeries and the recovery process for facial paralysis brought on by Bell’s Palsy. For over the past 10 years, we have developed 3 dimensional approaches to assess facial and circumoral soft tissue movements applied to patients with craniofacial deformities/disorders.

Patients born with cleft lip/palate may undergo numerous and extensive soft tissue surgeries in an attempt to normalize the facial features. Residual scarring as a result of these surgeries limits the optimum esthetic results. Our research indicates that patients remain with significant impairments in circumoral movement and disfigurement of the region. The dynamic and static objective measures that we have developed provide surgeons with a tool to more accurately assess both the extent of the impairment and degree of disfigurement, and ultimately, tailor revision surgeries to a patient’s individual needs.

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What We Do

Step One

A movement analysis system, Motion AnalysisTM is made up of 8 Kestrel cameras, positioned at different viewpoints in order to capture all angles and curvatures of a patient’s face. Using a marker placement template or reference photograph, Facial Animation Laboratory staff apply 3 millimeter reflective markers, circular shaped hemispheres, to participants’ faces using eyelash adhesive or double adhesive tape. The animations patients are instructed to make include movements such as lip purse, cheek puff, maximum smile, mouth open, grimace, and natural smile.

Step Two

Once data is collected from patients on the Motion AnalysisTM system, research staff tracks the data. The color-coded points correspond with 64 different reflective markers that are placed on the subject’s face. The 8 Kestrel cameras locate and track each individual marker from their respective vantage points and converge the images into one three-dimensional image, shown here. Researchers can manipulate the image, zooming in/out and rotating the face to evaluate all angles, and also measure the distances each marker travels when the subject performs various facial animations. In this picture, a subject with unilateral left-side facial paralysis is demonstrating a maximum smile.

Step Three

The 3dMDTM Static camera system captures three-dimensional still photographic images of patients in peak positions of each movement.

Step Four

Three video camcorders are positioned to record the frontal and both profile views of the patient’s face simultaneously.  The participant’s face fills each camera view on the video monitor, allowing researchers to view the participant’s face from all angles simultaneously on one screen. The participant is instructed to make different animations using a randomized sequence that include lip purse, cheek puff, maximum smile, mouth open, grimace, and natural smile.

Step Five

Once data is collected from patients on the Motion AnalysisTM system, research staff tracks the data. The color-coded points correspond with 64 different reflective markers that are placed on the subject’s face. The 8 Kestrel cameras locate and track each individual marker from their respective vantage points and converge the images into one three-dimensional image, shown here. Researchers can manipulate the image, zooming in/out and rotating the face to evaluate all angles, and also measure the distances each marker travels when the subject performs various facial animations. In this picture, a subject with unilateral left-side facial paralysis is demonstrating a maximum smile.

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Team

Caroll Ann Trotman, BDS, MA, MS
Principal Investigator

Dr. Trotman is Professor and Chair and Program Director of the Orthodontic Department at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine and Adjunct Professor at the University of North Carolina School of Dentistry. She is the founder of the Facial Animation Laboratory at Tufts University. Her leading-edge work and innovative concepts in craniofacial translational research has advanced research forward towards innovative approaches in orthodontics. Dr. Trotman received her dental degree from Dundee University, Scotland and her Orthodontic Degree and MA in Oral Biology from Columbia University, NY. She then completed a Fellowship in Craniofacial Anomalies at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. She has an MS in Clinical Research Design and Statistical Analysis from the Horace Rackham School of Graduate Studies, was an American Council on Education Fellow, is a Diplomate of the American Board of Orthodontics, and maintains and active research program with a focus on craniofacial anomalies.

Dr. Trotman has broad expertise in the treatment and care of patients with Cleft Lip/Palate and craniofacial anomalies, with specific training in clinical research and statistical analyses. As a faculty member at both the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, she has served and is currently serving as Principal Investigator on NIH-funded grants, all of which are related to, and served as the precursor for, the current research described on this site. Dr. Trotman has laid the groundwork for this current research by developing novel quantitative and objective measures to assess facial disability – measures that are applicable to all craniofacial patients.

Ceib Phillips, PhD, MPH
Co-Investigator

Dr. Phillips is Professor and Interim Chair of Orthodontics in the UNC-Chap Hill School of Dentistry. She received her doctorate from the University of Wisconsin and her Master of Public Health degree in Biostatistics from UNC-Chapel Hill. She joined the University’s faculty in 1978. Phillips is a recognized leader in clinical research related to orthodontic and oral and maxillofacial surgery treatments with a focus on patient recovery and patient perception of process and outcomes. Her teaching responsibilities are primarily within the Department of Orthodontics and the research core of the postdoctoral program.

Dr. Phillips has a broad background in prospective, observational clinical studies as well as clinical trials with specific training and expertise in the quantitative statistical methodologies applicable to the ongoing facial animation research projects. Her own research focus over the last ten years has been on assessing patient recovery following surgery including patient self-report, neurosensory assessments, and physical well-being.

Julian Faraway, PhD
Co-Investigator

Dr. Faraway has sixteen years of experience working on the analysis of functional data. He has developed new methods for the analysis of facial animation data, and has published literature in both biomechanics and orthodontics demonstrating the applications of the methods that he has developed. Dr. Faraway has extensive experience in the analysis of motion capture dating back to his position at the University of Michigan where he served as Associate Director of the Human Motion Simulation laboratory and as a collaborator with Dr. Carroll-Ann Trotman when she worked at the School of Dentistry at the University of Michigan collecting facial motion capture data. Dr. Faraway has continued to collaborate with Dr. Trotman, in addition to analyzing motion capture data from Sports Science and Psychiatry.

Dr. Faraway’s skills lie in the development of statistical theory for data taking the form of curves and shapes and in the computing ability to apply these methods to data that often requires substantial and complex processing. This combination of skills is unusual and allows him to form an effective bridge between statistical theory and practice for the type of data collected in Dr. Trotman’s Facial Animation Laboratory.

M. Elizabeth (Betsy) Bennett, PhD
Co-Investigator

A major goal of the U-award grant research is to qualitatively explore how surgeons integrate a new assessment tool (The Intervention) into their decision-making processes before, during, and after surgery. Because of Dr. Bennett’s experience in both academic settings and medical market research, she is uniquely qualified to conduct interviews with surgeons and guide the qualitative analysis of the resultant data. Specifically, she has been an instructor and researcher in dentistry for over 20 years, and has worked in medical market research/consulting since 1998. In both roles, Dr. Bennett has explored how physicians and dentists make decisions about new products and/or services, and how they eventually incorporate new technologies into practice (or not, as the case may be).

Dr. Bennett’s work has spanned the qualitative-quantitative continuum, and she has published work that utilizes these methodologies in dentistry. In summary, her experience across a wide spectrum of providers (including surgeons), patients (including CL/P), and settings (corporate and academic) has prepared Dr. Bennett to direct this component of the proposed research.

Cassandra O’Connell
Project Administrator

Cassandra (Cassie) joined the Facial Animation Laboratory team in January 2016. She is responsible for overall management of the laboratory at Tufts University. Her responsibilities include all aspects of coordinating a clinical trial and implementing research protocols. This includes recruitment of subjects, data collection, and data processing, in addition to acting as liaison between investigators and the Tufts University Health Sciences Institutional Review Board (IRB), Massachusetts General Hospital IRB, and Boston Children’s Hospital IRB. Cassie is the primary contact for all research participants, surgeons and collaborators from the institutions listed above, and also for any inquiries from participating Review Boards.

Cassie received her undergraduate degree in Psychology from the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth and is completing her Master’s degree in Public Health at Northeastern University.

Jane-Hwei Lee
Research Coordinator

Jane has been involved in the Facial Animation Laboratory since June 2015 and joined the staff officially as Research Coordinator in August 2016. She works closely with Dr. Trotman and the Project Administrator to handle patient recruitment activities as well as develop and manage subject databases for ongoing studies. She also oversees the technical aspects of the lab to ensure that the equipment runs smoothly during the study visit and that the data collected is adequately stored afterwards. Jane received her undergraduate degrees in Biology and Psychology from Indiana University and a Master’s of Science in Biomedical Sciences from Tufts.

Janhvi Rabadey
Clinical Research Specialist at University of North Carolina Facial Animation Laboratory

Janhvi joined the Facial Animation Laboratory in March 2016. She is responsible for all day to day laboratory activities: recruiting subjects, collecting and processing facial animation data preparing intervention media with processed stills, videos, and tracking data, training surgeons in the use of the intervention media, maintaining the facilities, equipment, and supervising/training work-study and volunteer research assistants. As a research specialist at the UNC site, she is the primary contact for subjects and surgeons at UNC and Wake Forest University, and collaborates with the research team at Tufts University with regard to project meetings, Manual of Operations, and publication presentation. Janhvi received her undergraduate degree from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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Current Research

The lab is currently working on a U01 Award and an R21 award.

Publications

Click here to see a selection of Dr. Trotman’s publications relevant to her current research.

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Contact

Facial Animation Laboratory – Boston

Facial Animation Laboratory – UNC

Cassandra O’Connell, Project Administrator
Office:617-636-0347
Cell:617-862-6607
Janhvi Rabadey, Research Specialist
Office: 919-537-3213
Cell: 336-404-8516
Address:
Facial Animation Laboratory
75 Kneeland Street, Suite 605
Boston, MA 02111
Address:
Facial Animation Laboratory
150 Dental Circle
3200 First Dental
Chapel Hill, NC 27599

Contact us to schedule research visits and for more information.

 

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