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Adv Anat Embryol Cell Biol. 2011;210:1-140, preceding 1.

Physical rehabilitation of paralysed facial muscles: functional and morphological correlates.

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Institut I für Anatomie der Universität, Köln, Germany.


Using a combined morphofunctional approach, we recently found that polyinnervation of the neuromuscular junction (NMJ) is the critical factor for recovery of function after transection and suture of the facial nerve. Since polyinnervation is activity-dependent and can be manipulated, we tried to design a clinically feasible therapy by electrical stimulation or by soft tissue massage. First, electrical stimulation was applied to the transected facial nerve or to paralyzed facial muscles. Both procedures did not improve vibrissal motor performance (video-based motion analysis of whisking), failed to diminish polyinnervation, and even reduced the number of innervated NMJ to one-fifth of normal values. In contrast, gentle stroking of the paralyzed vibrissal muscles by hand resulted in full recovery of whisking. Manual stimulation depended on the intact sensory supply of the denervated muscle targets and was also effective after hypoglossal-facial anastomosis, after interpositional nerve grafting, when applied to the orbicularis oculi muscle and after transection and suture of the hypoglossal nerve. From these results, we conclude that manual stimulation is a noninvasive procedure with immediate potential for clinical rehabilitation following facial nerve reconstruction.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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