Laypersons’ ability to identify facial paralysis increases with the severity of the condition, although individuals are not always able to accurately localize paralysis on the face, according to a study published online Feb. 8 in JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery.

Peiyi Su, from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, and colleagues conducted a prospective observational study to assess societal members’ ability to identify facial paralysis of varying degrees and localize the defect on the face. Web-based surveys were designed showing smiling and repose images of normal faces as well as faces with unilateral facial paralysis in three levels of severity. These images were shown to 380 casual observers who viewed 2,860 facial photographs in aggregate.

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