Medical Minute: Facial Paralysis

New ways patients can overcome the effects of facial paralysis.

Each year, 40,000 Americans find themselves unable to move a portion of their face. This ytep of paralysis is called Bell’s Palsy. It can affect anyone, but those who are pregnant, diabetic or who have an upper respiratory illness are more likely to develop it.

Smiling and having fund used to come easily to Beverly Petrovay. That all changed one morning.

“One day I woke up and I was having my tea in the morning and I noticed I was drooling and I though, what – am I not awake?” Said Beverly.

It turns out Beverly had Bell’s Palsy. The condition causes facial paralysis, it can often be treated, but patients are sometimes left with a condition called Synkinesis or Unwanted Motion.

DR. Ernest Manders, surgeon at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, said, “For instance, one might see a pattern where, when closing the eye, the corner of the mouth goes up like. So for every blink, for some of these patients, they get a twitch at the corner of the mouth.”

In a study of nine patients, Botox was injected to relax the muscles. All patients said the treatment was a great help and six needed only one injection and considered themselves cured.

Beverly improved greatly, but still has some problems to overcome. At least now she can do her therapy at home.

Witch or without treatment, most patients begin to improve within two weeks and about 80 percent recover completely within a few months. For some, the symptoms may last longer. In a few cases, symptoms may never completely disappear or patients will be permanently left with Synkinesis.

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