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Dr Judith Bek, phD, shares expert insights about hypomimia or facial masking in people with Parkinson’s

Hypomimia – also known as 'facial masking' – refers to a loss or reduction of facial expressions. A common symptom of Parkinson’s, it is characterised by slower and less pronounced facial movements.

Dr Judith Bek, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Manchester, UK, reveals more about it. “Hypomimia is thought to be caused by a loss of motor control that affects the movement of muscles in the face as well as elsewhere in the body. Facial expressions may be slowed or reduced in size, in a similar way to how general movements are affected in Parkinson’s,” she says.

Hypomimia may be very noticeable in some people with Parkinson’s (PwPs), but less so in others. It can have a devastating effect.

“The loss of facial expressiveness can negatively impact social interactions and relationships, particularly when combined with other symptoms such as speech difficulties and changes in body language or gesturing,” says Dr Bek. “The person’s ability to physically express thoughts and feelings is reduced, and others may have difficulty in understanding them or may misinterpret them”.

“Alongside a reduction in their own facial expressions, PwPs can also find it difficult to recognise emotions from other people’s expressions,” she adds.

Although medication can improve facial movement in PwPs, activities including dance, singing, or drama may also help PwPs to improve their facial expressions.

Read the full story at Parkinson’s Life.

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If you have hypomimia or facial masking, how has this affected your relationships with others? Email and tell us your stories.

Parkinson's Europe is sharing this article for information purposes only; it does not represent Parkinson's Europe's views and is not an endorsement by Parkinson's Europe of any particular treatments, therapies or products.

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