Functional electrical stimulation (FES) for facial nerve palsy
Facial muscles may be affected in patients with neurological diseases or nerve damage. Electrical stimulation and feedback help the patient to consciously perceive and change muscle tension. Voluntary muscle tension and relaxation as well as intermuscular coordination can be trained.
Nerve regeneration, muscle strengthening, and support of facial muscles
Targeted activation of facial muscles can be improved with the help of electrical stimulation and biofeedback (Volk et al. 2014). The EMG-triggered programmes enable unwanted movement of other muscle groups to be avoided when executing the movement.
FES is excellent in combining with other facial therapies, such as mirror therapy or emotional stimuli, which are applied to increase the activity of facial muscles. If the defects are located in the facial nerve (lower motor neuron), the STIWELL can be used to individually stimulate denervated muscles by means of appropriate current forms, frequencies, and pulses.
Added benefits of FES therapy
Treating facial muscles is of great importance in the treatment of neurological patients, since they are often a source of major psychological strain. This is because they may cause difficulties when drinking/eating and also through facial asymmetry, which is a burden both socially and aesthetically. FES in therapy, and as self-training in home-based therapy, targets precisely these problems.
STIWELL user stories
"After a total parotidectomy on the right, I had a post-operative peripheral facial nerve palsy with House-Brackmann Score IV (out of VI) ... After 3 months of (almost) daily use, my facial expressions, eyelid lowering, and mouth corner lift worked again in such a manner that strangers could not notice any significant impairment..."
Volk, G. F., Finkensieper, M., & Guntinas‑Lichius, O. (2014). EMG Biofeedback Training zuhause zur Therapie der Defektheilung bei chronischer Fazialisparese. Laryngo‑Rhino‑Otologie, 93(01), 15‑24.