October 29, 2010
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Recuperating Fijian back rower Akapusi Qera is fighting a Bell's palsy to find fitness for Saturday's Kingsholm Leicester Tigers clash.

The 26-year-old Gloucester loose forward is through the worst of the debilitative condition, that caused him temporary loss of muscle control in his face.

The 16-cap Fijian started Gloucester's Premiership-opening defeat at Exeter Chiefs, but was then forced to wait his turn for a recall.

Qera played the entirety of the European Challenge Cup defeat in Agen, but has since been laid low by the alarming – but thankfully not serious – problem.

Gloucester's medical staff caught the palsy in its early stages, allowing quick treatment to speed the former Birmingham and Solihull man's recovery.

Now Cherry and Whites boss Bryan Redpath is hopeful Qera will be in the selection mix for Saturday's Premiership grudge match (kick-off 5.30pm).

Redpath explained: "Q has had a Bell's palsy in his face which has affected his eye, but hopefully he'll be back from that.

"It's a viral infection and nothing more serious than that, but it's very scary when it comes on, through the nerves in your face.

"You lose a bit of muscle sensitivity and control, and that's something that would shock anyone when it comes on.

"But he's getting better thankfully, we caught it early, and it's a mild form of the condition too.
"He's had some treatment for it, but nothing different from what anyone else would have.

"So we just have to make sure he's fine."

Also known as idiopathic facial paralysis, Bell's palsy is a dysfunction of a cranial nerve that results in the inability to control muscles on one side of the face.

No definitive causes have been determined, but courses of steroids can quickly clear the problem, if caught early enough.

Often the eye on the affected side cannot be closed, and Qera had experienced this symptom.

Source: Gloucester Rugby

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