Rehabilitation and functional recovery after masseteric-facial nerve anastomosis

Chiara Pavese, Miriam Cecini, Alessandro Lozza, Federico Biglioli, Claudio Lisi, Maurizio Bejor, Elena Dalla Toffola

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: After masseteric-facial nerve (V-VII) anastomosis, a new neurological circuit oversees the facial muscles and patients should learn to activate the facial movements using the masseteric function. AIM: To monitor the rehabilitative protocol of facial muscles activation through teeth clenching and to assess the clinical evolution after V-VII anastomosis in terms of facial symmetry and functional recovery. DESIGN: Case series. SETTING: Outpatients clinic. POPULATION: Eleven patients undergone V-VII anastomosis for complete unilateral facial palsy. METHODS: After surgery, patients underwent a needle electromyography (EMG) and a rehabilitative training with mirror feedback to learn how to reach the symmetry at rest and during facial movements through teeth clenching. The rehabilitative protocol at the first clinical evaluation has been monitored through the Italian version of Sunnybrook Facial Grading System (SFGS) and the Software Facial Assessment by Computer Evaluation (FACE). Functional limitations and quality of life have been evaluated using the Italian version of Facial Disability Index (FDI). The clinical evolution at 18 months was evaluated with EMG, SFGS, biting evaluation and FDI. RESULTS: At the first clinical evaluation after reinnervation, through teeth clenching patients displayed an improvement of symmetry at rest, symmetry of voluntary movement, symmetry of smile and composite score of SFGS. Objective measurement of facial structures with FACE system demonstrated an improvement of symmetry at rest and during smile through teeth clenching. At 18 months patients displayed a good reinnervation with a further improvement of SFGS scores and reduction of functional disability. No biting deficit has been observed. CONCLUSION: After V-VII anastomosis, at the first rehabilitative visit, patients learn to activate the reinnervated facial muscles through teeth clenching. Eighteen months after the anastomosis, patients display a further improvement of voluntary control on facial symmetry and smile and a reduction of disability. CLINICAL REHABILITATION IMPACT: Our study illustrates the rehabilitative protocol after V-VII anastomosis and analyzes the clinical evolution after this intervention in terms of recovery of facial symmetry and reduction of disability. This will be instrumental to standardize the rehabilitative protocol among different centers and to choose the best patient-tailored surgical approach for subjects affected by complete facial palsy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)379-388
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Journal of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 2016


  • Biofeedback
  • Facial nerve
  • Facial paralysis
  • Masseteric nerve
  • Physical therapy modalities
  • Psychology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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