Living With Polio

Facial Involvement and PPS

Post-Polio Health, (Volume 31, Number 3), Summer 2015

Question: What are the symptoms in patients with post-polio syndrome with facial involvement? I am a PT with facial nerve involvement due to polio.

Response from Dr. Fred Maynard: Regarding facial nerve involvement after poliomyelitis: It is not common but also not rare. I have seen well over a dozen patients with significant one-sided facial weakness secondary to polio. I have not seen anyone who reported facial weakness early on after acute polio who then had complete resolution of facial weakness and who then found the facial weakness returned during the typical post-polio syndrome years (20-40 years later).

Among the post-polio survivors with chronic facial weakness whom I have known for more than 20 years as a doctor, none have had appreciable or significant worsening of the facial weakness or any new complications from it. Some minor concerns that have occurred include increased drooping of the face and appearance change, some tendency to slur words more and/or work harder on clear articulation, and some increase of minor drooling from the mouth, particularly if there are also new swallowing difficulties at the throat.

If any of these problems were to become significant, I would suggest a consultation and evaluation by a PhD speech and language pathologist who sees patients with dysphagia (swallowing problems) and/or an Ear, Nose, Throat (ENT) surgeon.

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