Lorraine Clapham, a neurological PT at UK-based Southampton General Hospital, has achieved movement in the faces of patients with "dead" nerves by stretching the inside of their mouths with her finger. By stretching the inside of the cheeks of several patients with complete facial nerve palsy with a finger while performing routine checks for ulcerations or trauma, Clapham caused the paralysed facial muscles to move.

The breakthrough, reported in The Journal of Laryngology & Otology and titled Clapham’s Sign, is currently under further investigation, but is believed to help maintain muscle metabolism and prevent wastage to kick-start movement in patients struck by a syndrome or help patients who have undergone surgery make a quicker recovery.

Clapham, who established pioneering clinic The Face Place at Southampton General Hospital in 2000 for patients who with facial paralysis, said, "The presence of this sign may be an important indicator regarding the recovery of the facial nerve and movements of the face."

"It may also help surgeons decide if and when surgery should be offered to try and restore facial movements," Clapham said.

The patients’ responses took a minimum of 6 to 7 weeks to appear following injury or surgery and continued for up to 7 months following the nerve damage.

[Source: Southampton University Hospitals NHS Trust via Medical News Today]