We aim to demonstrate that 3D optical scanning is clinically useful to detect, monitor and predict recovery in facial weakness. If it is useful, it has the potential to allow us to develop treatments that will improve patients’ lives and may reduce NHS costs.
Weakness on one side of the face is common after stroke and can cause distress and embarrassment, as well as interfering with speech and swallowing.
Clinicians have not recognised the impact of facial weakness on people’s self-esteem, confidence and mood. Although many people recover it can take months and some never recover.
Currently we lack any robust measure of facial weakness; it can only be described as mild, moderate or severe. We need to find a way of measuring the severity using numbers to describe the degree of weakness.
Dynamic 3D optical scanning is a new technology that measures the symmetry of the face. It may allow small changes in facial expressions to be measured accurately, thus detecting the effects of treatments, and rehabilitation (eg facial exercises), which is difficult at the moment as only large changes can be detected.
To explore if facial weakness can be described and changes measured using this new 3D scanning equipment.
Results so far demonstrate that stroke patients have, on average, higher facial asymmetry and also more significant changes on the asymmetry measure during face articulation.
This 3D imaging modality shows promise as a feasible method of quantifying facial asymmetry for research.
Further work is needed to explore the relationship between clinical ratings and these new data and to understand the requirements for clinical application of these methods.
For more information about this project, please contact Dr. Liz Lightbody.