New Standardized Measurement Tool Developed to Evaluate Pediatric Facial Palsy

July 10th, 2019
By: Content Staff

A team of researchers from nine countries, including the United States, has created a standardized measurement tool for pediatric facial palsy that could help treat the millions of children worldwide who are living with this condition. Their findings, first published in May in JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery, were featured on the website News Medical, which monitors developments in medicine and life sciences.

More than a million children each year are diagnosed with pediatric facial palsy, experiencing muscle weakness on one or both sides of their face. Causes include nerve abnormalities at birth, head trauma, and infections. Some children have permanent facial palsy, while for others, the condition eventually goes away, News Medical reported.

“Facial palsy profoundly impacts many aspects of a child’s life, from functional issues like eating and vision to core psychological issues such as social communication, peer relationships, and quality of life,” Kathleen Bogart, an associate professor of psychology at Oregon State University, told News Medical. “Using a standard set of measurement tools to track these outcomes after treatments will ensure that clinicians understand patient strengths and challenges while enabling them to verify what treatments are effective.”

A variety of measurement tools currently are used to evaluate treatment plans for kids with facial palsy, which is widely considered difficult to treat. Inconsistent use of outcome measures has hindered efforts to evaluate which treatments work best, so the International Consortium for Health Outcomes Measurement endeavored to change that. The nonprofit group held seven teleconferences over nine months with a group of 21 experts, including Bogart, and patient representatives, News Medical said.

The result of those discussions is this new standardized measurement tool, which can be used to track outcomes following treatment for facial palsy in all patients ages 18 and younger. The measurement tool incorporates a number of factors, each gauged using a scientifically validated tool. The factors include facial appearance and movement; oral continence; speech; facial discomfort; vision and ocular symptoms; health-related quality of life; social health; and major complications from interventions, according to News Medical.

The measurement tool can be used to judge the effectiveness of medical treatment, surgical treatment, eye-protection interventions, physical therapy, occupational therapy, psychological therapy, speech therapy, and botulinum toxin treatment. After they demonstrate that the measurement tool works reliably, researchers hope to encourage its adoption by a large pool of providers and national regulatory agencies, News Medical reported.

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