BACKGROUND: Peripheral facial palsy is a pathological condition caused by a wide range of etiologies. A damage of VII cranial nerve produces facial disfigurement and limitations in daily life activities, such as drinking, eating and speaking. As a consequence, patients may experience psychological distress and social isolation. To counsel and design a patient-tailored rehabilitation for patients affected by peripheral facial palsy, physical and social limitations should be considered. Moreover, the knowledge of factors associated with disability plays a key role in the early identification and adequate care of patients with higher risk to develop psychological distress and participation restrictions.AIM: To evaluate activity limitations, psychological distress and participation restrictions of patients affected by peripheral facial palsy seeking for rehabilitation and to identify individual and diseasespecific factors associated to disability.DESIGN: Cross-sectional study.SETTING: Consultation hour dedicated to facial palsy patients in the outpatient clinic of a Rehabilitation Unit.POPULATION: One hundred eighty-six outpatients with recent or chronic peripheral facial palsy at the first assessment at our Rehabilitation Unit.METHODS: Using multiple linear regression models, we evaluated the association between the two subscales of Facial Disability Index (FDI) and the composite score of Sunnybrook Facial Grading System, as well as the association between the two FDI subscales and other clinical and demographic variables.RESULTS: Activity limitations correlate with the severity of palsy, while psychological distress and participation restrictions do not correlate with the neurological impairment. The correlation between the severity of palsy and both activity limitations and participation restrictions is influenced by palsy etiology. Activity limitations decrease with time from palsy onset, while psychological distress and participation restrictions are more severe in women.CONCLUSIONS: Beyond severity, also etiology, time from onset and gender influence disability after facial palsy. These factors should be considered in counselling and planning a patient-tailored multidisciplinary rehabilitative treatment.CLINICAL REHABILITATION IMPACT: Our study highlights the individual and pathology-associated factors related to activity limitations and participation restrictions in patients with peripheral facial palsy. These elements should be considered in the definition of a patient-tailored rehabilitative plan and in the organization of a multidisciplinary care.
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