Facial paralysis impairs the mimetic functions of the facial musculature. In pediatric patients, free functioning muscle transfer neurotized with an intact contralateral facial nerve is the gold standard for smile reanimation. In response to requests from families of children with facial paralysis, the Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at the Hospital for Sick Children hosted an inaugural “Facial Paralysis Family Day.” The objective was to create an opportunity for families to meet, exchange stories, and build support networks.
This study was a quality improvement project to conduct a needs assessment and evaluate the feasibility and satisfaction of implementing a family support intervention for individuals living with facial paralysis.
The needs assessment demonstrated that families were most interested in advances in medicine, therapy and coping sessions and meeting other families. The post-event evaluation questionnaire indicated that attendees enjoyed the event, would attend again and found it highly valuable connecting and networking other families. It also indicated that key needs identified were addressed, with excellent ratings for the presentation discussing advances in medicine (100% rated “good” or “very good”), the therapy sessions (92% rated “good” or “very good”) and the presentations by patients and their families (100% rated “good” or “very good.”)
Two areas of improvement highlighted were elaborating further on medical advances and facilitating interactions between families. Overall, this event was well regarded and will likely be repeated at our institution and serve as a valuable resource for other hospitals planning to organize a similar event.