By Luiz Antonio de Lima Resende and Silke Weber
Arquivos de Neuro-Psiquiatria, Vol.66:3B (2008)
Abstract: This study provides historical documents of peripheral facial palsy from Egypt, Greece and Rome, through the middle ages, and the renaissance, and into the last four centuries. We believe that the history of peripheral facial palsy parallels history of the human race itself. Emphasis is made on contributions by Avicenna and Nicolaus Friedreich. Controversies about the original clinical description by Charles Bell are also discussed.
Excerpt: The first medical study of the disease is attributed to Avicenna (Abu-Ali al husayn ibn Abdalla Ibn sina, 979- 1037 A.D.). He was the first to record differences between central and peripheral facial paralysis: … “If the disease that produces paralysis comes from the middle of the brain, half of the body is paralyzed. If the disease is not in the brain but in the nerve, only that depending on this nerve is paralyzed”. Avicenna counted among the causes of peripheral facial paralysis, compression due to injury, tumor, or nerve sectioning. For treatment, he prescribed medicinal plants for topical application, all of them having a vasodilator effect. In some cases he recommended cauterization behind the ear in the region of the stylomastoid foramen, a procedure that also has a vasodilator effect. he also prescribed face and neck massage. He emphasized that “If sectioning of the nerve occurs, the only alternative is stump-to-stump suture”. As to prognosis, he stated that “no recovery should be expected from any facial paralysis that lasts more than six months”. We can consider that Avicenna had very advanced knowledge on peripheral facial palsy for his time (979–1037 A.D.).