Children with facial palsy may be monitored by a number of different healthcare specialists, depending on the cause of their paralysis.
Which specialists are involved in the care of an infant born with facial palsy?
Infants born with facial palsy will be monitored from the outset by a healthcare team which may include the following:
- Plastic surgeon
- Speech and language therapist
- Craniofacial psychologist
Where necessary, a wider team may include:
- Sleep/respiratory pathologist
- ENT (ear, nose and throat) surgeon
- Maxillofacial specialist (for example where the cause is hemifacial microsomia)
The different specialists involved in an infant’s care will depend on the type of facial palsy and any associated conditions or illness.
Which specialists are involved in the care of a child with Bell’s palsy?
Initially a child with Bell’s palsy will be monitored by their GP. If they have not recovered within three months, then they should be referred to a specialist team. If there are specific concerns (such as eye care), or the diagnosis is in question, an earlier referral is warranted.
Which specialists are involved in the care of a child who has facial palsy as a by-product of surgery or trauma?
Facial palsy which occurs as a consequence of surgery typically follows an operation on the middle ear or salivary glands, and the surgeon undertaking the original surgery may work with a specialist facial palsy team. This may be in the same hospital or in a regional unit.
Sharp trauma may be managed initially by a plastic or maxillofacial team if the nerve has been cut. Blunt trauma is usually the result of a skull fracture and would typically be managed by a neurosurgical team.
Eye care in children
Unlike adults, children with facial palsy have few problems with eye protection despite being unable to close their eyes or blink properly. Occasionally children may need surgery to improve eye closure but for most this is not necessary. However special care should be taken in children who have lost sensation to the eye, this is because damage to the cornea may occur without producing symptoms of pain or soreness, and therefore go undetected. Damage to the cornea can cause ulceration and problems with vision so it is important to observe the eye care advice. The cornea is the transparent front part of the eye that covers the iris and the pupil. If a child seems to be rubbing their eye or if it is watering excessively, again observe the eye care advice or seek further help from your GP.
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Private Facebook support group for parents and carers of children with facial palsy, operated by Facial Palsy UK.
Last reviewed: 19-02-2015 || Next review due: 19-02-2017