An automatic water-occluding device to enable laryngectomee participation in water activities

PLoS One. 2021 Sep 13;16(9):e0257463. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0257463. eCollection 2021.


Individuals with a laryngectomy face a host of challenges ranging from restricted vocal communication to significant lifestyle modifications associated with breathing through a stoma. Although there are significant mental and physical health benefits achieved by returning to recreational pursuits that were enjoyed pre-surgery, there can be significant obstacles in doing so. One particular challenge arises during participation in water activities (e.g, fishing, boating, etc.) where accidental submersion poses a significant risk of drowning. This manuscript describes a proof-of-concept device that protects the airway from accidental incursion of water into the airway during unanticipated submersion in water, thereby allowing laryngectomees to return to participation in water activities. The device is designed to be worn comfortably for long periods of time, while not interfering with the common methods of replacement speech that are utilized post-laryngectomy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Communication
  • Equipment Design
  • Humans
  • Laryngeal Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Laryngectomy / adverse effects*
  • Leisure Activities
  • Life Style
  • Recreation
  • Respiration, Artificial / instrumentation*
  • Silicones
  • Speech
  • United States
  • Water


  • Silicones
  • Water

Grant support

This work was supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), Division of Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental, and Transport Systems (CBET), under Grant No. 1510367, awarded to B.D.E. ( The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.