What is Facial Paralysis?
Facial paralysis can occur with patients who have suffered a stroke or peripheral injury, to the facial nerve. Paralysis and atrophy of the face muscle on one side creates unbalanced tension in the face. The unaffected muscles tend to contract due to absent pull from the muscle of the affected side.
The eye can be opened but not completely closed. The blinking reflexes is lost and the eyes are not efficiently protected from dust or other injurious substances, and therefore tends to water or even becomes inflamed (conjunctivitis). The corner of the mouth drops and the patient is unable to whistle. In regard to articulation, the pronunciation of the labial consonants (l,m,n) is affected. The nasal fold is obliterated, and the nostrils cannot be voluntarily dilated through they move positively during breathing. There is loss of taste in the anterior part of the tongue.
Massage and Exercise:
The therapy treatment must be geared towards the clinical findings. The unaffected hand starts the massage on the same side going downwards. Then the direction is changed around the mouth, and the massage is performed going upward on the affected side. The patient can learn how to perform this himself.
Examples of Active Exercises:
Wrinkling the forehead, vertically and horizontally Closing the eyes and mouth tightly Smiling, showing the teeth, and raising the upper lip Whistling—blowing and hold holding air with tight lips Trying to move the air from cheek to cheek Dilating the nostrils Pronouncing words containing consonants
Progression to Resistive Exercises:
The patient is encouraged to touch his face with his hand as part of relearning the roll of the facial muscles; this will also stimulate them.
Increasing facial muscle awareness can be achieved by stroking lightly with a towel, a cotton ball, a sponge and/or a brush. Stimulation of the inner part of the mouth or the outer surface can be done by simply using a spoon on the tongue, the lips, or the cheek.
The facial paralysis is very devastating and depressing to the patient because its location is on the most apparent part of the body. Teaching a patient can give him an effective tool in his hand to improve his facial expression and use the muscles correctly.