Our Mobile App will empower patients to take control of their own physiotherapy with remote assistance from a health professional.
This is an ongoing development which is being integrated with our FRAME project.
Who does facial paralysis affect?
There are over 30 different causes of facial paralysis with Bell’s palsy being the most common cause. Over 100,000 people are estimated to be living with facial palsy in the UK. Anyone, young or old, at any time can be affected. A person can literally lose their smile overnight.
About Bell’s palsy
We take for granted our ability to smile, blink, eat, drink and express how we’re feeling. Such natural facial movements can be lost overnight and occurs in up to 20,000 people per year in the UK due to Bell’s palsy.
Large-scale studies have shown that up to the third of patients who develop Bell’s palsy will be left with ongoing facial weakness or asymmetry.
Many will have a condition called synkinesis which means that the facial muscles move in an uncoordinated fashion. Smiling or eating may cause the eye to involuntarily close, impairing quality of life.
Treating facial synkinesis is difficult and the majority of patients do not have access to treatment. Clinical trials have shown that mirror biofeedback is effective to help patients regain facial control and symmetry. An alternative to mirror bio feedback is injections of botulinum toxin into the face every 3 to 5 months, which costs approximately £300-£400 per session.
Patients tell us that one of their biggest challenges is to keep motivated to do their facial exercises as changes happen slowly and it is difficult to measure changes over time using a mirror. They also sometimes feel uncomfortable when looking at themselves now given their altered appearance.
It is particularly difficult for children to engage in facial exercises unless there is some obvious reward.
As a patient, what will the MIRROR App mean for you?
We are developing an app that turns your iPad into a facial feedback mirror. The iPad’s camera acts as a facial scanner and will automatically locate specific landmarks, and documents the movement over time. Importantly your improvement in symmetry is tracked over time and your progress can be visualised on a graph.
For those uncomfortable with looking at themselves in the mirror your face can be changed into a character or animation which still allows you to have mirror feedback.
The feedback process can be turned into a game which is particularly helpful for children and encourages them to participate and stay involved by earning points and rewards.
Rather than feeling isolated with facial palsy, you can connect with other people who are either in your area or worldwide and track progress with others in the same way that people track their weight through weight loss clubs or their fitness through wearable devices.
Patients will also have the option of sending updates to their doctor or facial therapist so that they can track your progress between appointments. This may provide an early warning system if you are becoming de-motivated, or if there is concern about the rate of recovery and worsening of your condition.
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Last reviewed: 26-06-2017 || Next review due: 26-06-2018