UoG Student with refugee status helps those around the world with facial paralysis

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Credit: Mohamad Sani

Sam Wain
Writer

A postgraduate dental student at the University of Glasgow is advancing the way in which we can manage and treat facial paralysis.

Mahmoud Amir Alagha has developed a system that firstly creates an image by capturing the movements in a patient’s face. After this, he constructs a 4D image of these movements through videoing the movements. Finally, he produces a detailed digital mask of the patient’s face. This facemask allows the practitioner to study the specific region of muscle that is paralyzed or weak and is unique to each patient.

Speaking to the BBC, the student said that the new technology allows professionals to see “precisely how much movement is there, the speed, the direction, the pattern of movement, where you can compare before and after. That is something that would really benefit the patients and help advance the management of the patients.”

He has also stated to the University that his work is a “new horizon for the diagnosis and prognosis of these cases.”

However, this groundbreaking research has been under threat. Mahmoud Amir Alagha came to Glasgow from Aleppo, Syria. He had been studying in Glasgow for a year when the Syrian conflict became so severe that Alagha had to apply for British asylum. He was unable to gather the money to pay for his next year of study.

Alagha’s research supervisor, Professor Ashraf Ayoub told the BBC: “if he was rejected he would have been deported immediately; that would have been very dangerous to him and it would have undermining immediately what he has achieved in the first year.”

The University of Glasgow waived Alagha’s fees and his application for asylum was successful. With the future of his research secured, Alagha hopes for this program to be developed into the Glasgow Index of Facial Paralysis, and create a global standard.