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 She was 28 years outdated, and her life got here to a full cease.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 I had an enormous, large outdated smile!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.