The facial nerve controls the muscles on the side of the face, allowing us to show how we feel—to smile, cry, and laugh. When the facial nerve is damaged, either through injury or disease, full or partial facial paralysis can occur. Besides the obvious medical complications of facial paralysis (like eye and cornea damage), it can also lead to severe social and psychological consequences.
Symptoms of facial nerve damage can range from twitching to drooping and full facial paralysis. Common causes of facial nerve damage include:
• Autoimmune diseases – including multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease
• Trauma – including surgical trauma, facial injuries, and deep burns (leading to microstamia)
• Nervous system diseases – including strokes and Guillain-Barre syndrome
• Infections – of the ear or face and Ramsay-Hunt Syndrome
• Tumors – including cholesteatoma, glomus tumors, schwannoma, and parotid tumors
• Bell’s palsy – the cause of which is not directly know.
Facial paralysis can be temporary or permanent. After roughly six months, most Bell’s palsy patients, for example, will recover completely. Stroke victims and trauma victims, however, often have to undergo treatments for months or even years. Even with surgery and steroids, some patients only make partial recoveries and are forced to live with crooked smiles, facial tics, and other abnormalities. For chronic cases, physical therapy, massage therapy, and facial exercises are all used to improve quality of life. In some cases, facial exercises has been shown to achieve incredible results in a matter of weeks.
Facial Exercises and Facial Paralysis
Facial exercises are used to help patients recover movement after facial surgery, to help people with speech disorders, and to increase the range of expressions for people with facial nerve damage. A study conducted at Washington State University in 2010 documented the benefits of facial exercises on a woman who had had facial paralysis since a childhood bike accident. After only six weeks of facial exercises, she was able to retract her lip 50 percent further than at any time prior to the treatment. In short, she was on her way to smiling after only 6 weeks.
Facial-Flex® for Physical Therapists, Chiropractors, Massage therapists, and Clinicians
Facial-Flex is the only clinically proven facial exercise device. It is a FDA Registered Class 1 Medical Device that is used widely for both facial care and rehabilitation. Already proven as a treatment option for many debilitating facial disorders, Facial-Flex continues to be tested by major universities and healthcare researchers for new applications. For more information on how Facial-Flex can help your patients, please visit our homepage.