Facial plast Surg 2008; 24(2): 250-259
DOI: 10.1055/s-2008-1075841
© Thieme Medical Publishers

Facial Rehabilitation: A Neuromuscular Reeducation, Patient-Centered Approach

Jessie VanSwearingen1 , 2
  • 1Department of Physical Therapy, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • 2Facial Nerve Center, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Further Information

Publication History

Publication Date:
09 May 2008 (online)


Individuals with facial paralysis and distorted facial expressions and movements secondary to a facial neuromotor disorder experience substantial physical, psychological, and social disability. Previously, facial rehabilitation has not been widely available or considered to be of much benefit. An emerging rehabilitation science of neuromuscular reeducation and evidence for the efficacy of facial neuromuscular reeducation, a process of facilitating the return of intended facial movement patterns and eliminating unwanted patterns of facial movement and expression, may provide patients with disorders of facial paralysis or facial movement control opportunity for the recovery of facial movement and function. We provide a brief overview of the scientific rationale for facial neuromuscular reeducation in the structure and function of the facial neuromotor system, the neuropsychology of facial expression, and relations among expressions, movement, and emotion. The primary purpose is to describe principles of neuromuscular reeducation, assessment and outcome measures, approach to treatment, the process, including surface-electromyographic biofeedback as an adjunct to reeducation, and the goal of enhancing the recovery of facial expression and function in a patient-centered approach to facial rehabilitation.