Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Master of Physical Therapy (MPT)


Physical Therapy

First Advisor

Thomas Mohr


Facial Paralysis


Bell's Palsy is an acute unilateral weakness or paralysis of the facial muscles resulting from peripheral facial nerve dysfunction. Bell's Palsy is the most common cause of unilateral facial weakness. Since idiopathic facial paralysis was first diagnosed, several treatment options have been tried in an effort to influence early and full recovery. The role of physical therapy in the treatment of Bell's Palsy is to exercise the muscle in an attempt to keep the denervated muscle healthy while the injured axons regenerate and reinnervate the muscle. The natural course of Bell's Palsy is a spontaneous return of function in 71 % of all patients that present with the condition.

The most effective treatment and intervention for Bell's Palsy remains controversial because of the spontaneous recovery of Bell's Palsy and the lack of significant scientific research on treatment parameters. The purpose of this paper is to review the literature on the effects of three treatments for Bell's Palsy. The three treatments that will be reviewed are: steroid intervention, electrical stimulation, and surgical decompression. From this review, physical therapists will be able to gain a better understanding of the role of physical therapy in the treatment of Bell's Palsy.