Facial exercises may facilitate synkinesis.
Facial exercises, that focus on contracting the muscles, making various facial expressions or sounds, can facilitate the formation of synkinesis. This is our opinion, at Crystal Touch clinic, based on our experience and our scientific research on the origins of synkinesis. That is the reason why we do not use facial exercises in our rehabilitation program.
How can facial exercises make synkinesis worse?
The two control centers of our brain: Limbic system and Volitional center.
In our brain, we have two centers that manage our facial expressions. One is the limbic system – the factory of emotions. Another one is the voluntary system, the one which produces a fake smile when we have to smile to someone who we actually dislike.
The limbic system
When we are genuinely happy, we produce a genuine smile or any other genuine facial expression and that is produced by the emotional center of the brain. The limbic system produces signals which are per definition always correct, symmetrical and well-balanced. Because they have been developed by evolution as a communication tool.
The volitional system
Our voluntary center, that produces voluntary expressions, is not that finely tuned, not that finely differentiated. We cannot control it as nicely as our limbic system can control our face.
When we do various facial exercises, we are actually using that voluntary center of the brain. So we are actually training our brain to over-use and to over-write our emotional expressions. Which leads to mimetic amplification, and which leads to a further imbalance in our facial movements.
Facial exercises target only facial muscles, and not the facial nerve
Facial palsy affects the facial nerve. The facial muscles and our brain remain healthy and are not injured by facial or Bell’s palsy. So, we do not need to re-learn how to move our face, we know it. The ability to move our face, the core ability of the brain to manage our facial expressions has not been affected because the brain did not sustain any damage. It is only “the wire” that has been damaged. But the source – “the switch”, and the muscles, remain fully functional.
So, we do not need to learn how to use our muscles, which is what facial exercises do. Instead, we need to learn how to engage more our limbic system, not the volitional, for the production of facial expressions. That is one of the tasks we work on with our patients at the clinic.
– Alex Pashov
Crystal Touch Bell’s palsy clinic