Every year, about 40,000 Americans are afflicted with Bell’s palsy, a temporary paralysis of the facial muscles that can manifest as muscle twitching and drooping at the corners of the mouth and eyelids. While recovery usually occurs within weeks, sufferers spend that time struggling with the physical challenge of a face that looks different and the psychological strain of having no clear idea what caused it—the prevailing opinion is a viral infection—or when exactly they will get back to normal.
Carroll Ann Trotman is hoping to remove some of that mystery by giving physicians data that leads to better treatment and faster recovery. Trotman, professor and chair of orthodontics at Tufts School of Dental Medicine, is using 3-D cameras to map the physical impact of Bell’s palsy and subsequent recovery in patients. She is using similar 3-D modeling techniques to improve outcomes for cleft palate surgeries.
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