Physical Therapy for Facial Paralysis
EMG biofeedback is a method of retraining muscle by creating new feedback systems as a result of the conversion of myoelectrical signals in the muscle into visual and auditory signals
Facial palsy can lead to important functional deficits. These challenges can include oral incompetence, limited eye closure, difficulty with articulating certain words, inability to express emotions, and associated anxiety and depression. Chronic facial palsy can also lead to dysfunctional facial movements and facial tightness. Rehabilitation for facial palsy can help patients regardless of the etiology of the paralysis, and it works complementary to other treatments to optimize outcomes.
During the initial evaluation visit, patients will talk with one of our therapists about how facial palsy is affecting their lives and what the most bothersome symptom(s) are. A comprehensive evaluation will be performed including clinician-graded facial function and symmetry assessments, photographs, videos, and surveys assessing how facial palsy is affecting the lives of patients on a daily basis. We then formulate a facial rehabilitation plan together with patients that includes 5 main components: 1) patient education about the condition and its expected course; 2) soft tissue massage techniques; 3) exercises to improve facial function such as oral competence and eye closure; 4) exercises to retrain facial muscles to optimize facial expressions; and 5) techniques to eliminate involuntary facial movements (synkinesis). We emphasize self-management strategies for patients as this empowers them to take control of their facial palsy. Further, facial palsy is often a chronic condition and long-term commitment to home exercises is required to obtain the best results. We understand this at the Facial Nerve Center and we work with every single patient to develop an at-home routine which will improve facial function and symmetry while not being overburdensome.
At the Facial Nerve Center, the therapists and surgeons work together to optimize treatment strategies for our patients. For example, we will time the initiation of facial rehabilitation and Botox so that patients get the most out of each treatment. After smile reanimation surgery where a branch of the chewing nerve is used to reinnervate the smile muscles (aka 5-7 nerve transfer, or masseteric-facial nerve transfer), our therapists help patients learn how to smile by biting down and give them exercises so that, with practice, patients can smile without having to think about it.
At the Facial Nerve Center, we have a team of Facial Nerve Therapists who have dedicated their careers to helping patients with facial palsy overcome their conditions. Not only do they help patients on a daily basis at the Facial Nerve Center, but they also have trained therapists from all over the world to help patients with facial palsy.