Expression of emotion and quality of life after facial nerve paralysis

Otol Neurotol. 2004 Nov;25(6):1014-9. doi: 10.1097/00129492-200411000-00026.


Objective: To investigate the facial expression of emotion and quality of life in patients after long-term facial nerve paralysis.

Study design: Cross-sectional.

Setting: Facial nerve paralysis clinic.

Patients: Twenty-four patients with facial nerve paralysis and 24 significant others (partner, relative, friend).

Intervention: Patients were assessed using Sunnybrook, Sydney, and House-Brackmann grading scales and SF-36, Glasgow Benefit Inventory, and Facial Disability Index quality-of-life measures.

Results: When patients identified themselves as either effective or not effective at facially communicating each of Ekman's primary emotions (happiness, disgust, surprise, anger, sadness, and fear), 50% classified themselves as not effective at expressing one or more of the six emotions. Significant others of the not effective patients rated the emotions as more difficult for their partner-patients to communicate facially than did the significant others of effective patients. The SF-36 quality-of-life survey revealed lower social functioning relative to physical functioning for not effective patients. From the Sunnybrook Facial Grading System, more synkinesis was found for those patients not effective at expressing happiness, less brow and eye movement for patients not effective at expressing sadness, and less voluntary movement for those not effective with surprise.

Conclusion: Movement deficits associated with expressing specific emotions and an association with quality-of-life measures were identified in patients with long-term facial nerve paralysis who saw themselves as not effective at facial expression of emotions. To improve management of emotional expression in patients with facial nerve paralysis, a broader approach is recommended, linking the practitioner's treatment goals with patient-driven outcome goals.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Emotions*
  • Facial Expression*
  • Facial Nerve Injuries / psychology*
  • Facial Nerve Injuries / surgery
  • Facial Paralysis / etiology
  • Facial Paralysis / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Quality of Life / psychology*
  • Recognition, Psychology
  • Self Concept
  • Social Perception
  • Surveys and Questionnaires