Otolaryngology & Communication Sciences

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Neuromuscular Facial Retraining

Weakness or paralysis of a side of the face can result in disordered facial expression and problems with speaking, chewing/eating.  Difficulties in these areas affect not only the way others see us but also the way we perceive ourselves.

Recognizing the unique rehabilitation needs of individuals with facial paralysis and the fact that there are few programs nationwide that provide neuromuscular facial rehabilitation, the Center for Communication and Swallowing Disorders established a comprehensive program for the rehabilitation of facial paralysis or facial weakness.

The following types of post-acute conditions may warrant evaluation and treatment through the Neuromuscular Retraining Program:

Bell's Palsy
Ramsay Hunt Syndrome
Acoustic Neuroma and other tumors resulting in facial paralysis
Traumatic Injury
Post-surgical facial reanimation procedures


A physician must refer patients for evaluation and therapy.  The evaluation process begins with a review of the patient's medical records and documentation of the medical history.  The initial evaluation typically takes two to three hours.

Since patients normally respond best to the treatment techniques when visible signs of functional recovery have begun to occur, a period of 3 - 18 months post onset of the facial paralysis is a typical time frame for an initial evaluation through the program.

Clinical Assessment includes:

Upgrade of the individualized therapy program as necessary to optimize functioning

The retraining process relies on active participation in the program.  Patients must be motivated and cognitively able to pursue an intense program over a prolonged period of time for maximum potential benefit.

© 2014 Medical College of Wisconsin
Page Updated 11/08/2013