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Abstract

An efficacious treatment has not been available to patients with aberrant regeneration of the facial nerve as a result of Bell's palsy or after acoustic neuroma excision. This prospective controlled trial examines the efficacy of electromyographic feedback versus mirror feedback as treatment strategies for patients suffering from long-standing (18 months minimum) facial nerve paresis. Twenty-five patients were randomly assigned to electromyography with mirror feedback or mirror feedback alone. Seven rural patients who did not undergo treatment served as controls. At 0,6, and 12 months, facial motor function was objectively quantified by linear measurement of facial movement, visual assessment of voluntary movement, and electrical measurement of facial nerve response to maximal stimulation. Statistically significant improvements were noted in both electromyography and mirror-feedback groups with respect to symmetry of voluntary movement (P < .03) and linear measurement of facial expression (P < .01). The positive results of this controlled trial demonstrate that feedback training in combination with a structured home rehabilitation program is a clinically efficacious treatment for patients with facial nerve paresis.