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Bells Palsy

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Joined: 28 Jul 2010
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Location: Westerville, Ohio

PostPosted: Sun Mar 31, 2019 6:24 am    Post subject: Bells Palsy Reply with quote

Hi All. Have any of you been stricken with Bells Palsy? I got it last year about July and I'm still having some trouble getting back to where I was. The left side of my mouth is still weak. I'm a trumpet player and its really affected my tone and endurance. Just looking for suggestions. Thanks in advance, Steve
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Joined: 29 Apr 2007
Posts: 1233
Location: Indiana

PostPosted: Sun Mar 31, 2019 8:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Steve, I'm sorry to hear this!

I had a student a few years back who began trumpet (in her early 70's!) who had bell's palsy. I recommended she try some of the facial exercising gadgets out on the market like a facial flex or Warburton PETE to try and strengthen things. Aside from that, my advice would be to take it slow and be patient. recovery is possible. I worked with a gentleman who had bell's palsy, and then came back to the job and still sounded pretty damn good.
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Joined: 23 Nov 2001
Posts: 1378
Location: Hastings, NE

PostPosted: Sun Mar 31, 2019 8:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Steve,

I'm sorry to hear this as well. I had Bells Palsy during my undergraduate years (got it the week before my senior recital!)

Everyone has a different come back story, and it's wildly different for everyone. I'd be happy to talk to you about this more in detail. Here are some things that worked for me:

1. Don't push it. If your face stops working, be done.
2. Go for an effortless approach. I always tell folks that BP was the best thing that ever happened to my playing, because it truly taught me how to use my air rather than rock solid chops.
3. I did a fair amount of Caruso to refocus my embouchure. This helped a ton.

I would say that it took me probably about 4 months to be able to really play well again, and well over a year before I felt like my playing was back up to 100%. My face still feels uneven (although I'm used to it now). My right side only feels about 85% as strong as the left. But that's just sheer muscle strength, and has nothing (or very little) to do with my actual playing at this point.

Feel free to contact me and we can talk about it more.

Dr. Louie Eckhardt, trumpeter
Assistant Professor of Music
Hastings College
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John Mohan
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Joined: 13 Nov 2001
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Location: Chicago, Illinois

PostPosted: Sun Mar 31, 2019 10:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

In my experience, flexibility exercises and the Clarke Technical Studies provide great exercise to the face muscles. Based on how they tire (and in the long run, strengthen) my face muscles when I do them I don't see the need for off-trumpet exercises (that might cause over-exertion when combined with actual trumpet practice).

I do suggest you allow more than the usual rest periods between individual exercises and also the individual parts of your daily practice routine. Also, I think you should said up an every other day approach with a normal routine on one day followed by a very light, short and easy routine the next day. You need your muscles to get stronger and they will get stronger faster if they have plenty of rest time to rebuild between heavier playing sessions.

Best wishes,

John Mohan
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Joined: 10 Mar 2004
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Location: Johnson City, Texas

PostPosted: Mon Apr 01, 2019 9:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry to hear about your difficulties. I experienced some similar temporary numbness and weakness caused by a bout of shingles. I believe the best recovery comes from exercises that progressively re-program and strengthen your chops. I would suggest you look at the Caruso forum and follow the exercises Charly has put in the sticky notes.

From my personal experience, I highly suggest that you not push too fast to get back to where you were. I went overboard and had to pay the extra price of removing bad habits I acquired from too much, too soon.

Best wishes.

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Joined: 30 Jul 2004
Posts: 613
Location: New Orleans

PostPosted: Tue Apr 02, 2019 4:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bells cost me six months of playing work. I never expected to play ever again and thought my career was over. I could not control one side of my face and couldn't even form an embouchure. I also remember my tongue being nub and my eye not being able to blink. (had to keep ointment in it to keep it from drying out) The chops came back after I took predizone and antibiotic for an extended time (Months). I did facial control exercises from broken embouchures by lucinda lewis when my face allowed it. It's really its not muscle damage though its nerve damage. Best of luck to you. You should recover good as new.
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