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What is facial retraining?

A specific program designed to retrain facial muscles for movement and expression after the Facial Nerve has been paralyzed. Facial expression is one of the most important skills humans possess. The face shows expressions and facial muscles provide the ability to smile, pucker, blink and chew.

What are the goals of facial retraining?

  • Normalize movement of facial muscles
  • Increase symmetrical movement patterns of the face
  • Increase volitional movements of the face
  • Inhibit undesired movements and synkinesis
  • Normalize muscular tone

What conditions can cause facial paralysis?

  • Bell's Palsy and Ramsey Hunt Syndrome
  • Facial, temporal bone or head traumas
  • Acoustic neuromas, facial schwannomas and other tumors affecting facial movements
  • Vascular damage
  • Infections
  • Cerebrovascular accidents (CVA)
  • Congenital abnormalities

What is involved in facial retraining therapy?

A thorough evaluation of facial movements through observation, dual channel Electromyograph (EMG) and sensation.

Active self training by the patient includes:

  • Individualized specific functional facial exercises
  • Dual Channel Electromyograph training using sensory, visual and auditory feedback to teach the brain to make new neurological connections for facial movements when the old ones have been damaged.  The patient observes on a screen all increments of movements. Also, the  graphs on the computer screen compare right and left sides of the face so the patient can work toward symmetry.
  • Isolated movements to decrease synkinesis and abnormal movement patterns
  • Patient education
  • Visual feedback with a mirror
  • Supervised modalities of electrical stimulation, heat/cold, massage, eye care and vibration.


Patients are typically seen once weekly on an outpatient basis and are provided a specific individualized home exercise program.

Outcomes of Facial Retraining

Outcomes at the Atlanta Ear Clinic and other centers utilizing this treatment intervention show up to 95% recovery in all treatment categories, even in cases of long standing paralysis.

Facial retraining requires time, effort and concentration by the patient, but the results are worth the efforts! On many of the patients treated, the results are so outstanding it is hard to identify which side of the face has been paralyzed.

Dr. Steenerson | Vestibular Rehab | Cochlear Implants | Tinnitus | Hearing Aids | Neuromuscular Facial Re-Ed | Office | Contact Us

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