The effect of subthreshold continuous electrical stimulation on the facial function of patients with Bell's palsy

Acta Otolaryngol. 2016;136(1):100-5. doi: 10.3109/00016489.2015.1083121. Epub 2015 Sep 23.


Conclusion: The drug regimen plus electrical stimulation was more effective in treating Bell's palsy than the conventional drug treatment alone. The effectiveness of such a sub-threshold, continuous, low frequency electrical stimulation suggests a new therapeutic approach to accelerate nerve regeneration and improve functional recovery after injury.

Objectives: The purpose of this study was to determine whether sub-threshold, continuous electrical stimulation at 20 Hz facilitates functional recovery of patients with Bell's palsy.

Materials and methods: The authors performed a prospective randomized study that included 60 patients with mild-to-moderate grade Bell's palsy (HB grade ≤4, SB grade ≥40), to evaluate the effect of developed electrical stimulation on the resolution of symptoms. Thirty patients were treated with prednisolone or/and acyclovir plus electrical stimulation within 7 days of the onset of symptoms. The other 30 patients were treated with only prednisolone or/and acyclovir as a control group.

Results: The overall rate of patient recovery among those treated with prednisolone or/and acyclovir plus electrical stimulation (96%) was significantly better (p < 0.05) than the rate among those treated with only prednisolone or/and acyclovir (88%).

Keywords: Facial palsy; electrical stimulation.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Acyclovir / therapeutic use
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use
  • Bell Palsy / physiopathology
  • Bell Palsy / therapy*
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Electric Stimulation Therapy / methods*
  • Female
  • Glucocorticoids / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prednisolone / therapeutic use
  • Prospective Studies
  • Recovery of Function
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antiviral Agents
  • Glucocorticoids
  • Prednisolone
  • Acyclovir