Canadian Speed Skater Recovers From Facial Paralysis
During a training accident in December 2012, speed skater Brianne Tutt tragically obtained multiple injuries and facial paralysis that was reported as a case of Bell’s palsy. Competing for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games originally seemed out of the question for the 21-year-old athlete. However, after a year of recovery, hard work, and dedication, Tutt placed third in the Olympic trials in Calgary on January 2. She will represent Canada in the women’s 1,500-meter race on Feb. 16.
Bell’s palsy is a disorder that can cause facial paralysis due to swelling of the nerves that control the muscles that control facial movement. It’s important to diagnose Bell's palsy as early as possible and start treating the condition with steroids and antiviral therapy under the supervision of a medical professional. If symptoms do not resolve within 12 weeks, then a facial nerve expert should be consulted. At the Facial Paralysis Institute in Beverly Hills, Dr. Azizzadeh can assist you with most advanced treatments and Bell’s palsy surgery options.
What’s the Difference Between Bell’s Palsy and Facial Paralysis?
Even though Bell’s palsy is the number one cause of facial paralysis in the United States, not all patients who have facial paralysis have Bell’s palsy. Since Tutt’s case was a physical accident, trauma to her temporal bone likely caused her facial paralysis, not Bell's palsy. A Bell’s palsy diagnosis is exclusively attributed to a viral inflammation. Recent research has shown that Bell’s palsy occurs when a virus (herpes simplex virus, HSV) gets reactivated in the bone behind the ear (temporal bone.) When the nerve gets reactivated and swollen, it ends up causing the nerve to essentially “shut down.”
How Do You Treat Facial Paralysis From Temporal Bone Fractures?
If a patient has suffered from a temporal bone fracture, the condition is treated with steroids, but the patient also needs to get a CT scan. He or she may be a candidate for facial nerve decompression surgery depending on clinical and imaging assessed during the scan. Facial nerve decompression is performed when the facial nerve is compressed in the bony canal of the temporal bone. Pieces of the bone are removed so that the inflamed facial nerve can expand and the pressure that may be causing some of the facial paralysis symptoms is relieved.
How Often Do Patients Recover Completely From Bell’s Palsy?
Patients who have Bell’s palsy completely recover with no noticeable deformities or issues in about 85% percent of cases. 10-15% of individuals may develop moderate to severe facial weakness and synkinesis. If the patient lacks any facial movement after three months, he or she should be evaluated by a facial paralysis expert to make sure that a benign or malignant tumor is not involved.
What Are Possible Effects of Bell’s Palsy?
The typical effects of Bell's palsy may include weakness and uncoordinated movement of the face, and the condition can lead to temporary facial weakness or long-term facial nerve paralysis. Synkinesis means “simultaneous movement,” and after one suffers from Bell’s palsy, abnormal facial nerve regeneration may occur. The result is abnormal synchronization of facial movement where muscles, other than those intended, contract together during a particular movement pattern.
What Are the Best Bell’s Palsy Treatments?
Botox, neuromuscular retraining/physical therapy, and surgery have been mainstay treatments for patients with synkinesis, partial facial paralysis, and Bell’s palsy for the past two decades. Botox is a protein derived from botulinum toxin. It relaxes unwanted muscle movements and reduces tension in areas of the face that are hyperactive due to synkinesis. Treatment will depend on the level of facial paralysis and synkinesis, as well as a patient’s specific desires.
What Type of Surgery is Best for Bell’s Palsy?
Selective neurolysis is the most cutting-edge surgical treatment. During selective neurolysis, Dr. Azizzadeh releases the platysma muscle and decreases nerve activity in the nerves that counteract the smile mechanism so that the mouth can once again turn upward, restoring the patient’s ability to smile. It’s an intricate operation, but the downtime and risks involved for the patient are minimal, along the same lines as those associated with a facelift.
Schedule a Bell’s Palsy Surgery Consultation in Beverly Hills Today!
Find out more about the best procedures and Bell’s palsy surgery at the Facial Paralysis Institute in Beverly Hills. Call (310) 657-2203 today to schedule a consultation with facial paralysis expert, Dr. Azizzadeh, who will customize your treatment based on your individual circumstances and degree of facial paralysis.
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