Patient feedback - Ivan

My story starts back in 1984 when I was racing motor cycles in Northern Ireland. I crashed in a big way and one of my many injuries was that my face was left paralysed.

I worked hard on recovering from my other injuries but did not do any work on my face as I thought it would be something I would just have to live with.

After 30 years I was referred to the eye clinic because my right eye kept closing up when I was cycling. I was put on a course of Botox to treat this and it was during this treatment that I was offered a referral to the facial palsy clinic at University Hospital Southampton – The Face Place.

It was there that I met Julie Lovegrove, facial rehabilitation specialist, and Marie Pillinger, beauty therapist, who indicated they could probably solve the problems I was having with my face and mouth through facial physiotherapy.

I explained the main problems which were biting the inside of my mouth while eating and having to use my hand to help support my mouth while chewing food – as you can imagine this was very embarrassing when eating in company. I also had no smile and little facial expression which did affect my confidence and I was not happy about appearing in photographs.

The team worked on my face by giving me daily exercises and encouragement and by following their management plan I gained back 85% of my facial movement! The best outcome of all was that I stopped biting my mouth and no longer had to use my hand to help me chew.

They worked an absolute miracle and I am forever in their debt. The team then referred me on to Dr Anneliese Day, a psychologist who works in the wessex facial nerve centre at UHS, to see if she could help with my phobia of having my photo taken. We worked together on this and, along with the confidence I gained from my face returning, she helped me accept appearing in photos just like anybody else.

I hope my story helps to highlight what a valuable service the multidisciplinary team provides and if it was not for the inter-departmental discussions that took place they would not have known about my plight and would not have said “I think we can help”.