Mime therapy is a special non- conventional method of rehabilitation of patients with facial nerve paresis (weakness). It is a form of physiotherapy that combines mime techniques with conventional physiotherapy principles.
Mime therapy was developed in 1974 by Pieter de Vriese (ENT surgeon) and Jan Bronk (mime actor) from Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
It is aimed at patients with lack of facial movements, uncontrolled movements and involuntary movements after incomplete recovery from facial nerve palsy.
Patient who may benefit from Mime therapy include peripheral facial nerve paresis after Bells palsy, herpes zoster oticus, trauma, acoustic neuroma and otitis media. 70% of patients with Bells palsy recover completely but it is in the other 30% where it may be of benefit. It is not indicated if the primary reason for the facial nerve paresis is central (in the brain).
In 2003 the first randomized control study on Mime therapy was completed in Nijmegen, The Netherlands by Carien Beurskens, Peter Heymans and co workers. They showed that Mime therapy is effective in alleviating sequelae in patients with longstanding facial nerve paresis. It induces substantial improvement in the functioning level, the disability level and the health level of patients. (International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health of the WHO). It is also stable over time.
Mime therapy includes:
- Information about treatment and prognosis
- Auto- massage of the face and neck
- Breathing and relaxation exercises
- Exercises to coordinate both sides and reduce synkinesis
- Exercises for eye closure, lip closure
- Letter and word exercises
- Expressive exercises
The first appointment should ideally be scheduled 6 weeks after the onset of facial nerve paralysis. Even patients with stable paresis lasting longer than 9 months can benefit from Mime therapy, as was demonstrated in the Nijmegen study.