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Be on the lookout for Bell’s Palsy

Posted: Tuesday, March 19, 2019. 6:48 pm CST.

Posted: Tuesday, Marxh 19, 2019. 6:45 p.m. CST.

By BBN Staff: The Physical Therapy Department at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital (KHMH) has seen a rise in the number of cases of Bell’s Palsy, a conditionthat causes paralysis of the muscles in the face.

Breaking Belize News spoke with Thane Holder, head of the PhysicalTherapy department, who said that data on the condition was scarce,but there has been an increase in the number of patients that come in for treatment for the condition.

Holder explained that the condition is caused by an inflammation of the facial nerves, which is often triggered due to viral infections.
The inflammation often has a sudden onset, rendering the muscles unable to move without warning. Due to the effects of Bell’s Palsy,
persons often believe that they suffered from a stroke. Persons suffering from Bell’s Palsy have trouble doing routine things like chewing their food, closing their eyes, or making facial expressions like smiles.

“If the nerves remain inflamed for a prolonged period of time it canresult in permanent damage of some facial muscles,” Holder said. “It is important that patients begin therapy as soon as they are diagnosed so that they can have the best results.”

Treatment for Bell’s palsy entails anti-inflammatory medication prescribed by a doctor, vitamin supplements to help repair the nerve and a range of physical therapy regiments which includes electrical stimulation, kinesio taping to position muscles in a certain way to help muscle stimulation, massage, and facial exercises. Therapists also provide patients with general do’s and
don’ts during treatment.

BBN spoke with Dr. Marvin Manzanero, director of Health Services for the Ministry of Health, who said that the ministry only became aware of a possible increase in cases at our request for information. Manzanero said that the MOH would consult its Epidemiology Unit for statistics before offering further comment, but noted that there
could be circumstances affecting the data that the ministry has.

“People may be coming in with that but they have never been diagnosed anywhere in the system,” Manzanero said.

BBN will be following up on the story once the data becomes available.




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