WSU proves facial exercise improves nerve damage

WSU study expands time window for facial nerve rehabilitationby administrator on May 10, 2011

SPOKANE, WASH. ?A research study conducted at Washington State University Spokane offers hope to those suffering from facial nerve damage. According to the study, which was published online this week in the journal Developmental Neurohabilitation, muscle weakness resulting from facial nerve damage incurred during childhood can improve with intensive facial exercise, years after injury.

“Our study shows that there isn’t just a one-year window for facial rehabilitation, which has commonly been assumed in the field,” said Nancy Potter, an author on the study and an assistant professor of speech and hearing sciences at WSU Spokane.

The article, “Effects of Strength Training on Neuromuscular Facial Rehabilitation,” was authored by Emily Perry, a former graduate student of Potter’s, who served both as a researcher and as the study’s single subject.

As a child, Perry had been involved in a serious motorcycle accident that left her with serious injuries. Among them was facial nerve damage, which resulted in a right-side facial droop that was not treated at the time as it did not negatively affect her speech.

Thirteen years after her accident, Perry worked with Potter and others to design a facial exercise program that involved seven weeks of intensive strength exercises (Phase I) followed by a moderately intense 16-week strength training program (Phase II). The program targeted four different muscle regions in her face, using a device normally associated with increasing and measuring tongue strength in patients with swallowing disorders.

Another tool used to measure progress was the Perry Appliance, a custom-designed device consisting of a tape measure attached to a dental whitening tray. It served as a visual aid to several volunteer graders in scoring photos and video footage that showed the extent of facial movement throughout the exercise program.

The results showed a significant increase in strength in all four impaired muscle regions throughout the seven-week intensive exercise program in Phase I. Strength was maintained, though not increased, during a subsequent two-week rest period and during and after Phase II of the treatment. Though the authors chose to include strengthening exercises only?excluding those focused on increasing range of motion?they also observed an increase in lip raise, making Perry’s smile more symmetrical.

“I’m very excited about these results and the prospects they offer for others affected by facial nerve damage,” said Perry.

Preliminary results of the study were also presented at the 2010 International Conference on Motor Speech. As a result of that presentation, several leading rehabilitation hospitals are currently looking into adopting the study protocol.

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Looking Younger with Facial Exercise

Facial exercises really can bring a youthful vitality to the face. And I should know, because I’ve been teaching these techniques for years, and have become one of the world’s foremost experts on facial toning exercise. My Happy Face Yoga DVD has been a #1 facial exercise seller around the world. Below you’ll find a few sample exercises and lots of important information about Facial Exercises.

Looking younger is a goal for many people, and there’s a healthy, natural alternative that is quickly gaining popularity. It’s called Facial Toning Exercise, or Facial Yoga, which-ever you prefer. They are one in the same. They are both facial exercise routines and poses, which incorporate yoga breathing, also known as deep belly breathing. This type of breathing helps you to stay in the poses, and also helps to bring energy to the face. Many people have had great success with the techniques, receiving “face Lift” type comments on their appearance. But be careful choosing a program. There are an increasing number of non-certified instructors entering the market. Many of them are simply teaching different forms of facial “stretching”. Dramatic results are probably not being achieved from some of these techniques. If you are looking for a great program with proven results, try Happy Face Yoga. A wonderful facial exercise program can be found on the web at

As we age, facial muscles weaken and begin to sag. Weakened muscles will cause many aging problems in the face. These problems can be corrected, or for younger people, prevented, by practicing facial exercise. I’m sure you’re familiar with some of these problems. The eyes narrow, cheeks sag, mouth corners droop down, jowls and pouches sag, lines and wrinkles appear, and the skin becomes dull. All of these, and much more, can be avoided or corrected with face exercise. These carefully orchestrated facial exercises are not contortions. This is a common misconception. Rather, the proven exercises that have seen dramatic effects are isometric and resistance exercises that truly help strengthen and tone facial muscles. The fingers are used to add the resistance. These resistance exercises for the face work just like using weights for strength training for the body. Most doctors agree that if you are out of shape, you need to exercise to strengthen core muscles; so it is foolish to think that the facial muscles wouldn’t benefit from exercise techniques as well.

The exercises are really easy to learn. Here’s one called The Cheek Lifter. Start by smiling! Open your mouth and form a long “O”. Fold your upper lip over your front teeth. Smile again to lift those cheek muscles up! Place your index fingers lightly on the top part of your cheek, right on top of the cheek muscles, directly under your eyes. Relax the cheek muscles, allowing them to return to their original, relaxed position. Smile again with the corners of your mouth to lift those cheek muscles back up. Visualize pushing the muscles up towards your eyes as you smile. You have just completed one “push-up”. Do ten of these “push-ups”. On the tenth “push-up”, hold your cheek muscles up as high as you can. Imagine that your cheeks are moving up from your face towards the ceiling. Take your index fingers and move them an inch away from you face and then move the fingers up over the scalp area. This will help you visualize your cheek muscles moving up! Hold this position for 20 seconds while looking up towards your fingers. If you tighten your buttocks during these 20 seconds it will help to push your cheek muscles even harder. Release and relax. Repeat this exercise three times.

There are exercises for nearly every part of your face. There are also exercises that help with the entire face at once, like The Happy Face Lifter. This exercise is best done standing up. First smile! Form a long “O” with your mouth. Press your lips onto your teeth, and then slowly fold your lips over your teeth. Give yourself a great smile raising your cheek muscles up! Now close your eyes and roll your eyeballs up toward your scalp. Adjust your mouth to make the “O” as small as possible. Smile again to further tighten those cheek muscles. Slowly tilt your head back. Now tighten your abdominals and buttocks, and lift your chest, contracting all your facial muscles. Slowly raise your hands up and over your head as you visualize lifting all fifty-seven facial muscles off your body, following your hands. Keep smiling and looking up, all 57 muscles lifting up towards the ceiling. Concentrate and focus by taking long, deep breaths. Hold the lift tightly for 30 seconds. Exhale as you let your hands and head drop down toward the floor. Slowly raise your body back up. A great exercise to do in the morning and one more time during your day!

The time it takes to see results from face yoga vary from person to person. You must practice daily, and gradually your exercising will bear fruit. It’s just like exercising the body. On the face, some of the results you will see first begin with the skin. As you exercise, a vigorous supply of blood is brought to the face. Within weeks, your entire complexion will improve. Gradually, eyes begin to widen, under-eye puffiness diminishes, mouth corners no longer droop, the middle and upper portion of the face will be lifted, the jaw will strengthen, double chins recede, and fine lines and wrinkles will diminish. Weakened muscles are effectively returned to a healthy, energized, and well toned condition. A natural, youthful vitality will emerge! The results that can be achieved with proper facial exercises really are fantastic. For more information, check out   A daily facial routine will help bring a youthful vitality to the entire face, and take years off your appearance. Just remember to practice daily!

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