Bells Palsy

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by T Winch, Jun 20, 2013.

  1. T Winch

    T Winch Member

    I was just wondering if anyone else on here had suffered from this and if you have any advice on regaining muscle control in the affected side of my face. I got it in February this year and, although I am now nearly fully recovered, I still can't blow an instrument. Six months ago I was playing solo horn in a championship section band. Now I struggle to play anything above a middle C. I've tried all of the usual embouchure exercises and it hurts like mad on the unaffected side, like it should when you've had a few months off, but I can't feel anything happening at all on the affected side. I've also tried massaging the nerve with no improvement
  2. toptutti

    toptutti Member

    I suffered Bells in the 90's and have never fully recovered. After a few years of non-playing I was lucky to find a tutor with a lot of paitience and slowly rebuilt an emouchure through various exercises and and a lot of trail and error. I've never fully regained the old playing prowess (not that I had much to start with), have very little stamina and have to practice just to stay still but I've found a band who'll put up with me and I enjoy playing more now then I have ever done

    I've just had to accept it, work harder and leave the sop under the bed gathering dust but never give up playing
  3. bumper-euph

    bumper-euph Member

    One good excercise to try is whistleing........I suffered Bells Palsy a few years ago and found good things to do online, also, I know its too late for you ,but they say if you can start treatment within 24 hours it can certainly shorten the recovery time. Check with your G.P. but I think it was a course of pills.
  4. T Winch

    T Winch Member

    I was put on steroids by my GP but it took longer than 24 hours for any of the pharmacies to order them in and I'd already been having symptoms for a few days by then. I have been trying to whistle as that was one of the first things I noticed I couldn't do and it's coming along nicely. I suppose if all else fails I could whistle the horn part
  5. jock24

    jock24 New Member

    Not quite the same, but in 1993 I suffered facial nerve damage as a result of a car accident. The left side of my face didn't work and I couldn't play a note on my cornet. It has improved over the years but I still can't whistle and there is a noticeable "droop" to the left side of my mouth, however, I returned to playing about three years ago, but on euphonium - it was a lot easier with the bigger mouthpiece. I still struggle with the upper register, and stamina, but both are slowly improving, although if I don't practice I go backwards! Hope this gives you some encouragement to keep trying .
  6. Hey there, i've suffered with Bells Palsy. I contracted it when i was 12 and now i'm 20. At the time i was playing cornet. It completely stopped me from being able to play at all, i had to move onto euphonium in order to produce a sound. This was because the mouthpiece covered more of my lip and required less strength in my embouchure. I kept at it, practising religiously and slowly but surely my symptoms improved and i regained most of my function.

    Now i play horn to a pretty high standard and i can also play cornet again. I was solo horn on NYBBW/NYBBGB and there isn't much that i can't do in terms of high/loud/quiet/fast/slow playing. However i do tend to fatigue much quicker than other players and find playing long extended solos without a few bars rest to be very difficult. This does hold me back a bit, although in a band it's usually not a problem. When i play, my left eye still closes and my lip on that side is sortof turned out and not tucked in neatly like the other side. (not sure if that makes sense?) As for my normal appearance, there is a very slight asymmetry and weakness on the left and i'm aware of it, but people usually comment that they don't even notice it! So it can't be too bad i suppose.

    I'm also studying dentistry atm so i have a pretty in depth knowledge of the nerves in the face. I would say that if you can maintain a normal appearance i.e. you don't notice any asymmetry at rest then you should be able to play an instrument. It took me a lot longer to recover than you. So you have to appreciate that it takes a long time, you're going to need to basically totally relearn how to play like i did. Try dropping down to euph/bass just to ease your chops back into it.

    I read this website, which is about a professional trumpet player and his encounter with bells palsy, i found it to be very informative and helpful!

    All i can do is wish you the best of luck! It IS possible to return to almost full playing form even after bells palsy, as i've experienced. So don't lose heart, just keep at it and never give up :) Keep doing your facial exercises and as others have mentioned, whistling is a very good exercise to do. I hope you get back on bike soon, it must be really frustrating! I feel for you i really do!
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2013
  7. ringa

    ringa Member

    I honestly hope some of these suggested remedies work as the band world has temperarily lost a wonderful
    Horn player. We need you back Trev. Never give up
  8. Ali

    Ali Member

    If it helps, I had reoccurring bells palsey. I had it 6 times and each time it was harder to come back. However, the best thing I can tell you is to give it time. It took me about 6 months to get back to some sort of form. I never got back to the complete control that I had before the "attacks" ans I struggle to play bottom g's at quite dynamics, but it hasn't stopped me getting to where I am now. If you want any more information, drop me a line. :-D

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