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No physios at new facial surgery research centre, but director invites specialists to come forward

11 January 2015 - 11:11am

Sally Glover, a specialist in facial palsy physiotherapy, has voiced disappointment that the recently-launched National Facial Oral and Oculoplastic Research Centre lacks physiotherapy input. 

Ian Hutchinson

Iain Hutchison, director of the National Facial Oral and Oculoplastic Research Centre

The centre, based at St Bartholomew’s hospital in east London, was launched at the end of last year. It is a collaboration between professional bodies, including the Royal College of Surgeons and the British Association of Maxillofacial and Oral Surgeons.

The centre will run clinical trials and audits to improve treatment for patients requiring facial and oral surgery.

But Ms Glover, a clinical physiotherapist in neurosciences at Queen Elizabeth hospital Birmingham, said she and her consultant colleagues have misgivings. ‘There doesn’t appear to be a link to therapy rehabilitation at the research centre,’ she said.

‘It’s considered best practice for surgeons to work with a therapist for after- care. Post-operative rehabilitation is the best chance for patients with facial palsy to spontaneously regain facial expressions.’

Ms Glover said that many physiotherapists working in this field were involved in research and have published articles in relevant journals.

Iain Hutchison, director of the centre and a consultant oral and maxillofacial surgeon at Barts Health NHS trust, confirmed that physios were not yet involved.

However, he said: ‘I would be very happy to hear from physiotherapists involved in this area of research and to talk to the CSP about how we can work together in the future.’

Lorraine Clapham, a specialist neurological physiotherapist and chair of Facial Therapy Specialists UK, told Frontline: ‘It would be interesting to know what information the centre will be collecting from patients.

‘I hope it will include whether the patient has received facial rehabilitation as part of their treatment; also the neurophysiological status of the facial nerve, if it had been involved in the injury or disease.

‘Sharing such information is important and what they are hoping to achieve is to be commended. But I would suggest that advice and input from a facial rehabilitation specialist and neurophysiologists would ensure that the data they’re hoping to collect is more complete and better to help identify patterns of treatment.’

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