Bells Palsy, a form of facial paralysis is the inability to voluntarily control facial muscles. However, there are methods for strengthening in order to gain greater control of the facial muscles. According to the Facial Paralysis Institute on Facial Exercises for Bell's Palsy, facial exercises can help improve the contraction of muscles for individuals that suffer from mild to severe cases. The institute states that main goal is to recreate the "brain-to-nerve-to-muscle" pathway by regaining the ability to conduct facial movements by doing so voluntarily, while focusing on the action mentally. Facial movements must be unlearned then must be relearned slowly and correctly in order to help coordinate facial muscles. The belief is that since facial movements become autonomic over time, the process of performing facial exercises can help strengthen and retrain the facial muscles.
According to the Bells Palsy Association, a method to help close the eyelid is as follows. First, look down, toward the floor. Secondly, rest the posterior or back of the index finger on a eyelid to keep it closed. Thirdly, with the other hand gently massage and stretch the eyebrow above the eye that is closed. Repeat the process with the other eye as well. Finally, slowly and gently squint both eyes as if looking into the sun until both eyes shut. The purpose of this exercise is not only to help the eyelids close but to prevent the eyelid from becoming stiff.
Another facial exercise mentioned by the Bells Palsy Association targets the majority of muscles found in the face. For this exercise, start by looking in front of a mirror. Secondly, gently raise both eyebrows by using fingers and hold the position. Thirdly, make a frowning face and wrinkle the nose while the fingers are holding the eyebrows up. Slowly return the frowning face and wrinkled nose to normal. Then, take both index fingers and place them on the corner of the lips. Gently slide the index fingers backwards, towards the ears until a smile is formed. Remove the index fingers and hold the smile in place. If the smile is held in place for longer than a few seconds, relax the muscles. To complete this exercise move both corners of the mouth to right, then left. This facial exercise should stretch and strengthen facial muscles if performed regularly.
In conclusion, there are many sources besides a doctor that can explain facial exercises. There are several articles and even videos that show Bell Palsy patients how to performing facial exercises. Research shows that by practicing, the exercises mentioned above for patients with a mild to severe cases of Bell's Palsy, have a greater chance at retraining their facial muscles to work correctly. The hope is to find a cure for Bell's Palsy, however, if an individual has Bell's Palsy it does not hurt to participate in the facial exercises mentioned above. The facial exercises do not cause any discomfort and it is a way to manage the conditions that patients with Bell's Palsy face.