Dedicated to the specialist

Recovering from facial injuries

16 February 2023

Facial injuries can occur for any number of reasons. Speech therapists may see the results of these injuries, and when this happens, it is important to know the best ways to help patients recover. Facial trauma can impact people of any age, so whether you are treating a child, teen or adult, the assessment of similar issues will be necessary. Any patient experiencing facial pain, including jaw pain, could experience problems with communication and eating, so it is important to support them in all aspects of recovery.[i]

Impact on communication

Facial injuries could impact patients’ communication skills, causing them problems with being understood, understanding other people, reading, and writing. This can have an impact on social engagement, with patients struggling to communicate effectively with others.[ii]

As a speech and language therapist, it is important to help patients find the best way to communicate, using strategies to remind them how to form sentences properly. They may also need to adapt the way they communicate, to be understood clearly, and understand others.

Jaw injuries can impact a patient’s ability to open their mouth properly. It can make jaw movements painful, and rehabilitation can take a long time. Treating patients early is important to prevent development of further problems.

Effect of injury on eating

Facial injuries can also affect patients’ ability to chew, swallow, and drink. The facial muscles used for chewing may be impacted. Therefore, patients might struggle to eat enough food, or to consume food with high nutritional value. This could impact their health and wellbeing.[iii]

When treating this problem, you should directly assess the patient’s ability to eat and drink. This will help you make sure it is safe to begin treatment. Recommend that patients try to eat smaller amounts at a time, and foods with a softer consistency, to reduce stress on the muscles.

Where possible, you should also work closely with and seek the advice of a dietician. They will help to make sure that the patient is able to receive enough nutrition while they recover from their injury.

Exercises to recover

Recommend that patients undertake a number of exercises to improve their ability to chew, swallow and speak. Exercises should help them to strengthen and stretch their muscles, and recover from their injury.

Patients should, over time, build up their ability to chew and speak, regaining strength in their facial muscles. Every patient’s recovery time will be different, and some types of exercise may be more effective than others.

Passive motion is particularly useful if a patient has injured their jaw joint or muscles. The OraStretch Press Rehab System, available from Total TMJ is an excellent solution for your patients with facial trauma. It uses passive motion to stretch and strengthen the patient’s jaw. This improves the patient’s range of motion and flexibility.[iv]

No matter the patient’s age, ensure they receive the support they need to regain maximum function. For patients who are struggling with jaw pain in particular, regular exercise is essential for making a full recovery. Make sure that patients can receive enough nutrition, and communicate during recovery. Patients should begin treatment as quickly as possible for the best outcomes and successful recovery.





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