The inability of volitional unilateral eyelid closure is an uncommon symptom of a central nervous system disorder. When it occurs as the result of a localized brain lesion, it is debated to be a form of supranuclear facial palsy or an apraxic phenomenon.
To report and discuss a unilateral (left-sided) higher-order movement disorder of the facial periocular musculature bearing apraxic features.
University neurology department.
A 78-year-old right-handed man was admitted to the hospital with a left-sided brachiofacial hemiparesis of sudden onset. After thrombolysis with intravenous recombinant tissue-type plasminogen activator, the hemiparesis, including the left-sided facial weakness, disappeared. Serial computed tomographic scans showed that the patient was left with a stroke in the right anterior cerebral artery territory, affecting the frontal commissural fibers of the corpus callosum. There were no signs of upper motor neuron facial paresis on the left side when gesturing in a natural context. Eyelid closure was complete during sleep. However, left eyelid closure and elevation of the left eyebrow were not possible on verbal command. In contrast, voluntary innervation of the perioral facial musculature was performed properly.
The voluntary-automatic dissociation of our patient's eyelid closure was suggestive of an apraxic disorder. Disconnection from a praxis center caused by callosal damage may be assumed to be the underlying cause. The unilaterality of the symptom might imply that in a bilaterally organized corticonuclear system such as upper face innervation, it is the crossing fibers that are primarily involved in praxis tasks.