The benefits of Botox as a treatment for cerebral palsy were discovered relatively recently, but Botox injections have already shown great promise as a way to treat muscle spasticity in children with cerebral palsy and in some adults with cerebral palsy.
Botox Relaxing Spastic Muscles
Although Botox injections are known mainly as a cosmetic treatment to soften wrinkles and relax the forehead muscles, this wasn't the original function of Botox, and Botox injections have several other uses that are of great value.
Botox was first introduced more than 30 years ago as a treatment for crossed eyes. It's still being used for crossed eyes, and for neck pain caused by cervical dystonia, lower back pain, migraine headaches, and excessive perspiration. These treatments are all based on the ability of Botox to relax muscles.
A Botox injection has a very tiny amount of Botulinum toxin type A, with the clostridium botulinum bacterium that causes the food poisoning known as botulism. This toxin block nerve impulses and can thereby paralyze a spastic or tight muscle, whether it's an eye muscle holding a crossed eye too tightly, a tiny facial muscle that contributes to facial lines, or a cerebral palsy patient's limb muscle that is tight and spastic.
Botox Increasing Range of Motion
The protein produced by the bacteria blocks the nerve impulses that keep a muscle tight. When a spastic muscle in a leg or arm is injected properly with Botox, it relaxes, allowing the muscle to be stretched and giving it a greater range of motion. Normal growth of the muscle can also be stimulated. The relaxation lasts several months, so in order to sustain the relaxed state of the muscle, new Botox injections are needed every three to six months or when the effects of the injections wear off.
Botox May Eliminate Need for Medication/Surgery
Continued Botox injections over time have been observed to eliminate the need for medication in some people, and to prevent or delay the need for surgery on muscles, bones, and nerves.
Several laboratory and clinical studies with patients have revealed that Botox injections can improve a cerebral palsy patients:
- range of motion
- tolerance for wearing braces
- self-esteem and confidence
Large Clinical Botox Study Shows Proof
In a study of 250 children with cerebral palsy, age 1 to 16 years old, 86% of the children treated with Botox injections showed measurable and noticeable improvement in their symptoms of muscle spasticity. When the children were examined after two years of regular treatment with Botox, more than 80% were still showing improvement over their original, pre-Botox symptoms.
Many of the children in the study were able to do more tasks on their own after they began Botox treatment, such as:
- feeding themselves
- operating a sink faucet
- holding a pencil and writing
- using a computer keyboard to communicate
When To Start Botox
It appears that Botox treatment is most effective in children under the age of six, when body joint contractures have not yet developed to the point that they're fixed. At that age, a child's bones are also still developing, and problems with bone development and deformity can be addressed at an early stage.
However, Botox injections may also help older children and adults, depending on the degree and site of muscle spasticity. The best results have been seen when Botox is injected into large muscle groups such as the calf muscle.
Botox Cerebral Palsy Treatment Access
Although the usefulness of Botox as a cerebral palsy treatment is becoming evident, it's not a widespread, easy-to-find treatment yet. In addition, there are not many physicians who have been trained in how to administer Botox as a treatment for cerebral palsy. As the success of this treatment becomes better known, Botox injections for cerebral palsy should become more widely available to the thousands of patients who could benefit from it.
It should be noted that Botox injections are rather expensive. Each single injection costs hundreds of dollars, and several injections per treatment session are the norm. For medical (i.e. non-cosmetic purposes), however, Botox injections may be covered by insurance.
Only mild side effects have been observed with Botox, whether it's used for wrinkles or muscle relief. Literally millions of people have received Botox injections for facial wrinkles without incurring side effects, and the same dosages of Botox that are used for facial wrinkles are the dosages used for cerebral palsy treatment.If your child has cerebral palsy and you suspect the condition is a result of birth trauma, contact an experienced cerebral palsy lawyer today to learn more about your legal rights.