Looking at this lovely picture I have of Winnie now, it is hard to believe that when I first met her she had just suffered a type of facial palsy caused by a condition known as Ramsey Hunt Syndrome. This condition is caused by the shingles virus and often causes severe pain and makes the sufferer feel very unwell for many weeks. I was working in the NHS when Winnie was referred to me by her GP, and quite a novice when it came to the treatment of the more complex facial palsy. I began treating Winnie in the early stages , but not long afterward I left the hospital to take up a new post and did not see her again for about 18 months, when I bumped into her in the shopping isle of a local Booths supermarket!
Seeing Winnie again was actually a bit of a shock as she had developed quite severe synkinesis on the left side of her face causing mass movements to occur whenever she spoke or smiled. Her left eye was dry and sore and closed if she spoke. She had not been receiving any ongoing treatment at the hospital.
I had recently completed an advanced training course in the treatment of facial paralysis with Diana Farragher OBE MCSP, and I was keen to get Winnie to my clinic where I could help reduce the synkinesis and help teach Winnie strategies for managing this in her daily life.
Winnie was so relieved to know that something could still be done after such a long time and she became my patient again! She has made super progress during the course of her treatment, and though her face still does not feel as it did prior to suffering the palsy, the overall control of movement has returned and her face is symmetrical again. To most onlookers, Winnie would not be singled out as ever having had a facial palsy at all.
Synkinesis can be hard to manage and rehabilitation is a long process involving a commitment from both therapist and patient. It can be a frustrating time, but with time and patience, a neuro4 stimulator and monitored rehabilitation the results can be very rewarding for both parties.
From April 2009, Morecambe Bay Physiotherapy will be offering assessment and treatment of facial paralysis in association with Neurocare (NorthWest )Ltd, providing facial rehabilitation and specialized care to those patients who require this service. For further information about the referral procedure for facial rehabilitation please contact:
Wendy Watson MCSP at Neurocare Ltd. Telephone: 07867632888 (or go direct via the link on the LINK page).
( All pictures reproduced on this page are with the kind permission of the clients involved).