While recovering from Bell’s palsy you might start wondering if your condition is really getting better over time. How can you observe your recovery progress after Bell’s palsy? There are several ways in which recovery progress can be measured. In professional institutions, there are both objective and subjective measures used to analyze the recovery level of your facial nerve. Let’s take a look at both options.
Objective recovery measurement tools
Objective measures do not rely on the opinion of an observer to state what is the level of your recovery. Electromyography, also known as the Nerve Conduction Study, is one of the most common objective measures that is used to measure the conductivity level of any nerve in our body, including the facial nerve. Some medical institutions use this tool to measure the facial nerve recovery level during Bell’s palsy. Worldwide, more often than not, the institutions that deal with facial palsy will not prescribe electromyography. There can be various reasons for that, but more commonly it is due to financial limitation. Unfortunately, Bell’s palsy does not receive a lot of funding as it is considered not life-threatening (although we all know very well the negative extent it may have on one’s life). Hence, not all institutions can afford to have electromyography. In some countries, it is simply not a common practice to be used for the facial nerve.
At Crystal Touch, we use electromyography with our patients to have an objective “view” on the recovery level of the facial nerve and its progress over time. We have extended the general protocol of the Nerve Conduction Study, to be able to see the recovery level of every single branch of the facial nerve, as well as record the extent of synkinesis.
This measure requires special equipment and knowledge, so it is not easily performed at home. Luckily, there is a simple subjective measure that you can use to observe your own recovery progress. We will discuss that next.
Subjective recovery measurement tool
There are a couple of subjective measurement tools that can be used. Each clinic and specialist might opt for one or the other. In this article, we will not be going over each of them, but we will mention the tool that we think is the most practical for the use at home.
‘Neurological Tests’ is a series of photos of certain facial expressions. Performed over time, it can help you to see the difference in your facial expressions and understand how your Bell’s palsy recovery is progressing. We suggest taking your Neurological Tests once every week and compare them from time to time. In addition to making the photos, you can also observe and record how you were feeling in that week, the amount of stress you had, your mood, exercises, etc., to see if anything might have an effect on your facial expression. In this way, you can learn what you should avoid in your daily life to help improve your recovery.
At Crystal Touch, we also use Neurological Tests to analyze the recovery level and observe the recovery progress of our patients. Besides showing how well the facial expressions can be performed, to a trained eye, these tests can also show which muscles are contracted, how well they can perform each movement, the level of synkinesis and other details of your facial muscles and the facial nerve function. That is why we always request to include these Neurological Tests during our analysis for the Online Diagnostic Session.
How to make the Neurological Tests
Making the Neurological Tests is very simple. Take the following close-up pictures of your face and neck area (as in the example photo). Mind that there should be sufficient light.
- Quiet, neutral expression, eyes open
- Quiet, neutral expression, eyes closed
- Eyes tightly shut
- Lift the eyebrows (surprise)
- Pucker (lips forward, kiss)
- Blow the cheeks (balloon)
- Light smile
- Broad, “Hollywood” smile
- Show your upper and lower teeth (grin)
And that is it. You can combine pictures together into one or keep them separate, whatever is more convenient for you. Compare the photos from each week to see your progress over time.
This tool is a simple visual way to follow your recovery process after Bell’s palsy and to monitor the efficacy of suggested therapies as well as the duration of achieved results. If you would like us to analyse your Neurological Tests for you, you can register for a remote diagnostic session.
– Alex Pashov
Crystal Touch Bell’s palsy clinic