The woman with Bell's palsy who got her smile back

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Media captionHalf of Anna Robinson's face was left paralysed because of a condition called Bell's palsy

A woman who got up one day to find she could no longer smile has been raising awareness about her medical condition.

Anna Robinson, 27, thought she had suffered a stroke but in fact had Bell's palsy, which is a paralysis of the muscles on the side of the face.

"I couldn't raise my eyebrow, shut my eye. It was very scary," she said.

But instead of hiding, the clinical project manager from Nottingham decided to record her progress on Facebook as she tried to smile again.

She said it was only when she was leaving for work one morning, in August, she saw something was wrong.

Ms Robinson said she "panicked" when she saw the side of her mouth was not moving.

'Completely overwhelmed'

"I noticed the left side of my face was completely paralysed," she said.

She was told she might not recover and that 1 in 14 people never get movement back.

Image copyright Anna Robinson
Image caption Anna Robinson charted her progress as she attempted to recover from Bell's palsy

But since then she has been sharing her progress on social media as she learned to smile again.

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"I avoided photos with anyone else but from day one I just thought some awareness should be raised about this," she said.

"The effect it has on you mentally and physically is unbelievable."

She said she had been "completely overwhelmed" by the response and said she hoped it had helped people in a similar situation.

The 27-year-old said she still had pain and cannot quite close her eye fully but can, after six weeks, finally smile again.

Bell's palsy

It is a condition that causes temporary weakness or paralysis of the muscles in one side of the face, with the symptoms varying from person to person.

The weakness on one side of the face can be described as either a partial palsy, a mild muscle weakness, or a complete palsy, which is no movement at all.

Bell's palsy can also affect the eyelid and mouth, making it difficult to close and open them.

Source: NHS