Speech Pathologist Marta Korytkowska On Challenges Justin Bieber May Face In Ramsay Hunt Recovery - Exclusive

Justin Bieber has put his career on hold following the announcement that he has been diagnosed with Ramsay Hunt syndrome, news which the singer shared with his fans via Instagram. The syndrome, which is the result of the virus responsible for chickenpox and shingles, causes facial paralysis, a secondary diagnosis that Marta Korytkowska, M.S., SLP-CCC, a speech-language pathologist at Sacred Heart University in Connecticut, has seen in many of her patients before.

In an exclusive interview with Health Digest, Korytkowska explained more about what happens when a person has facial paralysis as a result of Ramsay Hunt.

First, she watched the star's Instagram video and evaluated the symptoms he seems to exhibit. "Bieber shows the lack of eyelid movement, nostril flare and complete paralysis of his face," Korytkowska told Health Digest. "If you listen carefully, his speech is distorted and slightly imprecise. You can see a lack of a nasolabial fold ... You can see that only one side of his face is moving when he speaks and is almost pulling the other side."

Clearly, Bieber is not only grappling with how his diagnosis affects his very successful entertainment career. The star will also face daily challenges, the scope of which we discussed with Korytkowska.

Ramsay Hunt syndrome causes facial paralysis

Speech-language pathologist Marta Korytkowska delved into why a person like Justin Bieber would experience facial paralysis as a result of Ramsay Hunt syndrome. "The virus impacts several cranial nerves either unilaterally (on one side) or bilaterally (on both sides)," she told Health Digest, adding that cranial nerves are behind sensation in our faces. "Think about when you get novocaine at the dentist and you feel numb — this is because a portion of the trigeminal nerve is targeted," she explained. This nerve is also responsible for basic functions like chewing and jaw movement.

Not only is Bieber potentially experiencing challenges with chewing and jaw movement, but other nerves can also be impacted. There's also the vestibulocochlear nerve to consider, which controls balance and hearing. "Damage here can impact hearing but also cause the individual to feel dizzy," Korytkowska said.

"The facial nerve, which is responsible for movement of the face, including our lips, can lead individuals to have imprecise speech or inability to drink without spilling or keeping food in their cheek, known as pocketing," she further explained.

Facial paralysis impacts daily function

When it comes to the symptom of facial paralysis, trouble with speech and swallowing are the main implications for someone like Justin Bieber. As speech-language pathologist Marta Korytkowska noted, when a person experiences facial paralysis, they cannot move certain articulators that produce speech. Although most of us don't think too much about what goes into speaking, it's a complicated process according to Korytkowska, who said, "Precise and timely movements of the articulators [are] needed for clear and easily-understood speech."

"We may see difficulty with saliva control and drooling on the affected side," she also told us, adding that forming a seal around a straw will be a challenge with this symptom, as will pocketing food in the cheek on the affected side of the face.

The good news is that a professional like Korytkowska can help patients rehabilitate their speech and swallowing, which is also impacted by facial paralysis. As Bieber noted in his Instagram video, he is engaged in therapy to help with his facial paralysis, a course of action strongly recommended by Korytkowska. "A speech language pathologist would evaluate dysarthria and dysphagia, and offer short-term solutions for compensatory strategies for both speech and swallow," she said, adding that home exercises are also indicated for long-term recovery.

View Marta Korytkowska's bio page on the Sacred Heart University website to learn more about her expertise in the field.