Tom Foley Battles Neuro-Disorder
Updated 12:15 AM EDT, Fri, Sep 17, 2010
Tom Foley, the Republican candidate for governor, has announced he has Bell's Palsy. It comes in response to criticism he's received on the campaign trail.
Foley says he was diagnosed with the condition 16 years ago. He says it has caused severe muscle impairment in the right side of his face, making it difficult to smile, among other problems. He says it improved for a while, then got worse, and has never gone away.
"I really hadn't thought about it much until I started running for office and I started hearing back secondhand you know, 'Why doesn't Tom smile more?' and I was being criticized for my articulation," said Foley, during a campaign stop in New Haven. "It would gradually get better and you could feel your nerves hooking up again with muscles, and muscles that hadn't worked for a long time all of a sudden started twitching and started working again, but that stopped."
There are about 40,000 new cases of Bell's Palsy diagnosed in the United States every year. Unlike Foley's case, most patients fully recover within six months, or are left with few minor symptoms, according to Dr. Lori Cretella, a neurologist with the Hospital of Saint Raphael.
"Patients will notice some weakness of the face, have some difficulty fully closing the eye, some drooping of the mouth," said Dr. Cretella. "It does not affect a person's cognition or memory."
Short term steroid treatments are available upon initial diagnosis, said Dr. Cretella. The condition is believed to be caused either by viruses that lead to swelling of the facial nerve, Lyme Disease, and sometimes even certain masses, she said.
First Published: Sep 16, 2010 4:35 PM EDT
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