Living with Facial Paralysis: The Social Ramifications of Facial Paralysis
Facial Paralysis affects far more than the movement and coordination of the facial muscles. The result of having Bell’s palsy and other forms of facial paralysis cut much deeper than what can be observed from the outside. It’s important to consider the extreme emotional impact that having facial paralysis makes on people’s lives. At The Facial Paralysis Institute, leading expert Dr. Babak Azizzadeh has helped countless people with varying forms of facial paralysis. After his extensive training at Harvard University, Dr. Azizzadeh founded the Facial Paralysis Institute and become recognized as an international leader in facial nerve preservation and restoration. He has authored 5 bestselling textbooks including The Facial Nerve and has appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show and other media outlets for his work with facial paralysis. Most recently, Dr. Azizzadeh has been bestowed the honor of hosting the International Facial Nerve Symposium in 2017.
One of the biggest impacts that facial paralysis can have on a person’s life is that it changes the way that their social interactions with others. A recent article from theguardian.com highlights some of the emotional challenges that people face while living with facial paralysis. It explains that losing the ability to express positive emotions can be completely devastating. Can you imagine not being able to express joy, love, or happiness? Facial paralysis often affects a person’s ability to smile, which creates an inability to meet friends or loved ones with a warm grin. Many patients who have facial paralysis learn to use body language as a way to express the feelings that they can’t show through their facial expressions. Nods, shakes of the head, and arm gestures can all be used to help articulate what they are feeling. It’s important for friends and family members to learn to key into these unspoken cues so that interactions aren’t hindered due to facial paralysis.
Aside from the frustration of not being able to express emotions, people who have facial paralysis also have to get used to how other ‘s interpret their expressions. For example, if someone with facial paralysis meets someone new they can shake hands and say hello, but will most likely have trouble smiling. To a stranger who is unaware of their paralysis, this could easily be interpreted as being unwelcoming or stand-offish. This is just one small instance out of the countless daily interactions that are affected by facial paralysis. Over time, these misinterpretations could lead to lowered self-esteem, isolation, and depression. It’s important for the patient with facial paralysis to keep their social interactions positive and for other’s to be aware and accepting.
Along with it’s physically debilitating results, facial paralysis has a huge impact on people’s mental well being. Due to its serious implications, awareness is of the upmost importance. In 2009 Dr. Azizzadeh founded the Facial Paralysis & Bell’s Palsy Foundation, which strives to bring support, encouragement and resources to those dealing with facial paralysis. The Foundation even holds support groups for those affected and their families, hosts webinars with a variety of physicians, and funds research to advance the development of facial paralysis treatments. If you have been diagnosed with facial paralysis and are in need of support, join the Facial Paralysis & Bell’s Palsy Foundation today. The support that our members provide each other is truly incredibly.
If you or a loved one suffers from facial paralysis, call The CENTER Facial Paralysis Institute for more information or to schedule an appointment with facial nerve expert Dr. Azizzadeh – (310) 657-2203.
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