Alex Marshall’s Facial Paralysis Story


Facial paralysis patient with mother

Whereas out on her regular morning jog in Charlotte, NC, Alex Marshall was struck by a turning car at a pedestrian detour. After that second, and all through the following yr, her recollections are hazy. The yr was 2015. She was 28 years outdated, and her life got here to a full cease.

When she regained consciousness within the ER, she was affected by a number of accidents and damaged bones — cranium fractures, a shattered knee — in addition to extreme traumatic mind harm.

Alex later found she was additionally affected by facial paralysis. Half of her face was unable to maneuver prefer it used to. Devastatingly, she may not smile.

“If I used to be feeling gross or ugly, my confidence booster was my smile. I had an enormous, large outdated smile! So to see that go away was actually scary and heartbreaking,” says Alex.

Coming Dwelling to Heal from Facial Paralysis

Alex’s medical doctors tended to most of her accidents. However they neglected others. One of many cranium fractures affected her center ear, which broken her facial nerve, resulting in facial paralysis.

After transferring to Charlottesville to be nearer to her household, Alex started to hunt care at UVA Well being. To deal with her lingering facial paralysis, Alex’s main care physician instructed she attempt remedy classes with UVA Well being bodily therapist Helen Gatling-Austin. Remedy meant workout routines to heal Alex’s synkinesis. This involuntary twitching linked her eye and mouth muscle mass.

“We won’t repair the facial nerve,” explains Gatling-Austin. “It has to heal by itself. Our job as therapists is to retrain how the mind identifies the muscle and strikes it.”

She remembers Alex being up for the problem. “I may inform she actually needed assist for what was happening, and he or she was going to work laborious to get higher.”

Reconstruction After Trauma

Accidents, harm, or most cancers therapies might injury your face. Study reconstruction.

Discovering Her Smile in Facial Paralysis

One of many hardest features of facial paralysis for any affected person is the lack of their smile. Smiling is a key a part of our every day communication.

Alex was thrilled when she discovered that an injection of Botox may assist convey again her smile.

“Helen put me in contact with the ENT Clinic at UVA Well being. They usually really gave me medical Botox. By no means would’ve anticipated that! It is nearly like placing a solid on one muscle to assist loosen up it so you may retrain different muscle mass.”

“Instantly,” Alex says, ” I may deal with transferring my muscle mass round my mouth to smile with out having to have my eye closed. And because the Botox began sporting off, I spotted that a few of that arduous work with Helen was staying.”

Botox to Assist Her Respiration

All through remedy, Alex found a facial muscle tightening that was limiting her respiration. She returned to the ENT clinic to seek the advice of with Sam Oyer, MD. Oyer noticed a brand new alternative to make use of Botox to loosen up these tight facial muscle mass.

Alex remembers Oyer’s holistic strategy. Oyer cared about all features of her situation and therapy because the accident. “He requested about what different medical doctors I used to be seeing. He requested all these questions to enter element and discover why I wasn’t respiration correctly,” she remembers. “You can inform he actually cares about his sufferers and makes you’re feeling very comfy and in good palms.”

In Good Palms for the Highway Forward

Alex has used this chance to re-establish her roots in her hometown. Whereas reconnecting together with her household’s material enterprise, Alex channeled her abilities into growing her personal line of material designs.

With UVA Well being’s assist and a refreshed outlook on life, Alex is ready to see the highway to restoration from facial paralysis.

“Now I am on the level the place we will lastly deal with and repair these few final issues — issues that bought neglected at first. UVA helps with that. Now I am in good palms.”

Watch Alex’s story right here.

View Transcript

ALEX MARSHALL: I lived uptown Charlotte. And there is a path that goes out in direction of simply outdoors of the city. I went on my regular route, it was about eight miles. And there wasn’t a crosswalk, and the sunshine was pink, however I suppose the flip lane had simply turned, and someone hit me. And it was actually unhealthy. I had a extreme traumatic mind harm. I used to be unconscious, and damaged bones, damaged wrist. I used to be bleeding from my head. My cranium was cracked open. There have been lots of issues that bought neglected. Numerous it appeared higher, however then I spotted I nonetheless had some issues trouble me with my face. In order that’s after I got here to UVA. My whole left facet of my face was paralyzed. Ever since I used to be slightly woman, my dad would at all times love and praise my smile. And I had a dimple. And my favourite factor that if I used to be feeling gross or ugly, my confidence booster was my smile. I had an enormous, large smile. So to see that go away was actually scary and heartbreaking. There aren’t very many face bodily therapists within the nation, and I am very fortunate as a result of there’s one in Charlottesville.
HELEN GATLING-AUSTIN, PT: Nicely, once we began working collectively, I may inform that she actually needed assist for what was happening. And he or she was going to work laborious to get higher. From a remedy viewpoint, we won’t repair the facial nerve. It has to heal by itself. So our job as therapists is to grasp what’s taking place there, educate the affected person tips on how to stretch out the tight muscle mass, but in addition really retrain how the mind identifies the muscle and strikes it.
ALEX MARSHALL: After lots of work with Helen, a pair years glided by, and my face began tightening up. So I went again and Dr. Oyer was now there. He gave me the total face examination. There was a muscle that was tight right here, and it was stopping me from respiration. So now he provides me slightly little bit of Botox right here. It helps loosen up the muscle, and I can breathe higher.
SAMUEL OYER, MD: Alex has been such a constructive, optimistic affected person of mine. And it is actually superb for me to see the journey that she has taken. There’s not lots of facilities throughout the nation that actually provide the total spectrum of therapies. Botox alone will not do it. Surgical procedure alone will not do it. It actually takes a group. So right here at UVA Well being, now we have that group in place. And people who find themselves actually keen about treating folks with facial nerve problems.
ALEX MARSHALL: Going by one thing very traumatic, it is essential to have a great help group.

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