Patients undergoing stroke rehabilitation may benefit from a surgical technique which addresses facial weakness.
Facial paralysis can result in the loss of voluntary movement of the muscles on one side of the patient's face, so experts at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine have been testing a new procedure that reconnects the muscles around the jawbone.
The procedure has so far been attempted on 15 patients and doctors report that the results have been "excellent to superb".
Lead surgeon Dr Patrick Byrne told BBC News: "When we tighten the muscle around the mouth and along the cheek, we find it helps not only with oral competence - their ability to control their mouth - but it also helps with their speech - they have less of the air escape - they're able to generate better articulation."
The Stroke Association's Isabel Lee welcomed the development, telling the Daily Telegraph that improvement in facial weakness is "all down to the individual case of stroke".