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Facial Nerve Disorders

Facial Nerve Multidisciplinary Center

Tens of thousands of Americans suffer from facial nerve disorders every year.  While most of these conditions – like Bell’s palsy (by far the most common facial nerve disorder) and Lyme disease – are curable, in some cases they can cause long-term paralysis or other long-term problems. 

Because facial nerve problems have multiple sources and symptoms, an approach involving experts from many clinical areas provides the most effective means of addressing these conditions.  That’s why the UI Health Facial Nerve Multidisciplinary Center was created.

Facial nerve Disorders TeamOur Multidisciplinary Team covers the breadth of medical and surgical services, and our complementary expertise addresses all aspects of facial nerve problems.

The Facial Nerve Multidisciplinary Center’s team is a group of physicians focusing on diagnosis and treatment of patients with acute or chronic facial paralysis.  The team includes experts from a wide number of specialties and uses the most current techniques for the best possible outcome. Our patient-centered approach focuses on addressing each individual patient as a whole, from one location instead of individual symptoms or issues.

Facial nerve disorders may cause weakness, paralysis, involuntary movement, or drooping of the facial muscles and can be triggered by a number of conditions. The condition is often referred to as Bell’s palsy, but Bell’s palsy is only one type of facial nerve disorder. Often facial paralysis is caused by a virus infection of the facial nerve, but it may also be caused by trauma, stroke, tumors, and other infections.

We evaluate and treat a wide range of facial nerve disorders.  The symptoms can affect a person’s quality of life, directly affecting the appearance of the eyes, smile or speech and may cause physical discomfort.  The team includes experts in neurology, neurosurgery, oculoplastics and neuro-ophthalmology, facial nerve rehabilitation, facial reanimation surgery, electrophysiology, neurotology, and electrophysiology.

Our Multidisciplinary Team

We cover the breadth of medical and surgical services, and our complementary expertise addresses all aspects of facial nerve problems. Including:

Nichole Suss, AUD - performs our highly specialized ENoG testing.

Contact Lens and PROSE specialist
Ellen Shorte, OD – is the Director Prosthetic Replacement of the Ocular Surface Ecosystem (PROSE) Clinic which specializes in bandage lenses and prosthetic device fitting to improve comfort and vision. For people with facial paralysis, PROSE treatment can reduce blurry vision, help keep what is seen sharper, and prevent damage to the cornea.

Charles Abrams, MD - specialize in electrophysiology and the evaluation of the function of the facial nerve. This team uses EMG-facial motor studies and blink reflexes to determine if the lesion is demyelinating or axonal, which affects diagnosis (demyelinating is more likely to heal on their own) and can help with localization.

Facial Reanimation Surgery
Tatiana Dixon, MD - facial plastic surgeon specializing in restoring facial function using a variety of static and dynamic techniques.

Neurotology and Facial Nerve Canal Surgery
Jeffrey Yu, MD and Miriam Redleaf, MD - specialize in surgery of the facial nerve, ear, and skull base.

Fady Charbel, MD, Chair of Neurosurgery - specializes in removing the intracranial tumors relating to the facial nerve.

Zulma Hernandez-Peraza, MD and Fernando Testai, MD - neurologists caring for most of the University's facial nerve paralysis patients.

Oculoplastics and Neuro-ophthalmology
Vinay Aakalu, MD and Peter Macintosh, MD - focus on recreating a natural looking eye with a natural blink.

Physical Therapy and Facial Nerve Rehabilitation
Anita Sanchez, DPT - specializes in diagnosing the exact muscles of the face which are weak, and then addressing them. She has developed her own facial exercise system for her patients.

Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery
Marco Ellis, MD - specializes in restoring facial symmetry and muscle function. His practice provides a full complement of microsurgical and cosmetic solutions, they range from nerve grafting and transfer to simple static procedures to camouflage imbalance.

Speech Pathology:
Kimberly Zimmerman, CCC-SLP, Director of Speech Pathology and Hospital Neurosciences - manages the Speech Pathology staff providing motor speech and swallowing assessment and treatment for patients with facial weakness. The speech pathology team individualizes each patient's situation to develop compensatory strategies for speaking and swallowing.

For More Information, call 312.996.6269