Botox Treatment for Cerebral Palsy

By Jeff Rasansky

Botox & Cerebral Palsy

Botox Treatment of Cerebral Palsy

Botulinum toxin type A, or Botox, is a therapeutic muscle-relaxing agent that reduces the rigidity of muscles or unwanted spasms in a specific muscle. Botox is produced from the bacteria that causes food poisoning and provides relief for muscle stiffness at the injection site. For more than 15 years, Botox has been used to treat crossed-eyes and twitching, as well as for cosmetic purposes to reduce wrinkles. Over the past ten years, Botox has been used successfully to treat spasticity in children with cerebral palsy.

When prepared properly for therapeutic use, Botox is injected in minute amounts into spastic or dystonic muscles. It blocks neuromuscular transmissions by binding to receptor sites on motor nerve terminals, thereby inhibiting the release of acetylcholine. Botox only affects the muscles that are injected. The injection stops the signal between the nerve and the muscle, effectively relaxing the muscle and reducing stiffness. Once the muscles are relaxed, therapists are able to stretch the muscles and stimulate normal growth. Botox injections may improve a child’s range of motion, ease in stretching, tolerance to wearing braces and developmental gains (crawling, standing, or specific gait changes).

Children under the age of six who have abnormal tone interfering with function and have not developed fixed joint contractures respond best to this treatment. It is most effective when used during early stages of spasticity while the child’s bones are still developing and before problems with bone development and deformity set in. Results are often seen quickly, and side effects are minimal. This is not a cure for spasticity, and injections are repeated every three to six months.

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