Surgeons from UC Davis Medical Center in the US have demonstrated that artificial muscles can be used to restore the ability of patients with facial paralysis to blink.

Researchers said artificial muscle can restore the ability to blink in patients who no longer are able to close their eyelids due to combat-related injuries, stroke, nerve injury or facial surgery.

The three-layered artificial muscle was first developed by engineers at SRI International of Palo Alto, California, in the 1990s.

For people with other types of paralysis, the use of artificial muscles may mean regaining the ability to smile or control the bladder.

Researchers are now refining the technique on cadavers and animal modes. It is estimated that the technology will be available for patients within the next five years.