Miming is a performance art that relies on expression and body movement to communicate without speaking. Miming demands a highly-refined sense of body and muscle control. Mime therapy is a type of physiotherapy.
During mime therapy, patients perform a series of mime-like facial exercises and assume certain expressions in particular sequences. Mime therapy may be used in patients with partially paralyzed facial nerves and patients who have had facial nerve or muscle reconstruction. The goal of mime therapy is to improve the symmetry of facial features and to help patients regain expression and control of their facial muscles to help with appearance, speaking, eating, and drinking.
Courses in mime therapy are offered at the physiotherapy department of the Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre in the Netherlands. Enrollees are typically speech therapists and physiotherapists. Mime therapists are currently practicing in the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, and Portugal.
Mime therapy should not be confused with MIME (Mirror Image Movement Enhancer) training. The latter uses robotic devices to assist stroke patients with arm and hand function and other skills.
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Bell's Palsy. Some research suggests that mime therapy may improve facial paralysis, improve patients' ability to close their eyes completely, and decrease the occurrence of synkinesis.
More evidence is needed to rate mime therapy for this use.
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In the theory behind mime therapy, a combination of massage, breathing exercises and relaxation exercises would help to relax the entire body, which would, in turn, relax the face. Additionally, mime therapy exercises, in theory, would help patients to regain their facial symmetry by re-training their facial muscles to make facial expressions of different emotions. In exercises, the parts of the face that function well are utilized in order to help the parts that do not.
Some proponents of mime therapy suggest that it induces change in the nervous system. Others suggest that the patients relearn motor skills allowing them to function better.