Botox and Cerebral Palsy

While Botox is primarily associated with anti-aging cosmetics, you might be surprised to find out that it can be used to treat cerebral palsy (CP).

Botox is not a miracle drug for CP.  But if the patient has spasticity, Botox can help.

Let’s talk about cerebral palsy and why Botox is bringing about good outcomes for some patients. Before you can understand the use of Botox as a treatment for CP, you first need to understand a little about CP itself and how it affects individuals.

What is cerebral palsy?

Cerebral palsy (CP) is a group of disorders that affect mobility, balance, and posture. It is the most widespread physical disability in children. Abnormal brain development or damage is its primary cause.  Brain damage that results in CP can occur before, during, or after birth.  The most common cause of CP is the lack of oxygen during labor and delivery. It can even happen during the first years of a child’s life, during significant brain development. Most CP cases involve brain damage occur before or during birth.  A small percentage of CP is because of brain damage occurring with the first 28 days after birth.

What are the symptoms of CP?

Different people experience different symptoms. Someone with severe CP might not have the ability to walk at all and require lifelong care. Some might have milder symptoms, and may only need a walker as an aid. CP symptoms do not exacerbate over time. But symptoms can change over the course of one’s life.

People with CP can also experience different conditions such as intellectual disability, seizures, vision problems, hearing or speech problems, spine issues such as scoliosis, or joint problems such as contractures.

What are the different types of CP?

Doctors recognize four different types of CP. Each is related to what kind of movement is inhibited. They are spastic, ataxic, dyskinetic, and mixed.

Spastic CP is the most common form of CP out there. About 80% of individuals affected by CP have spastic CP. Spastic CP-affected people have increased muscle tone, which makes their muscles stiff and results in awkward movements. Spastic CP can be described by what parts of the body are affected. One such description is spastic diplegia, also known as diparesis. In this case, leg muscles are stiff, with arms either being not as affected or not being affected at all. Spastic diplegia results in tight hip and leg muscles causing one’s legs to be pulled together, turned inward, and crossed at the knees. This is also known as scissoring. Spastic hemiplegia, also known as hemiparesis, is a type of CP that affects only one side of the body. The arm is usually more affected by it than the leg. The third one is spastic quadriplegia, also known as quadriparesis. It is the most severe form of spastic CP and affects all four limbs, the torso, and the face. Spastic quadriparesis affects one’s ability to walk at all and can cause intellectual disabilities, seizures, or problems with hearing, speech, or vision.

Dyskinetic cerebral palsy causes one to have problems with controlling hand, feet, leg, and arm movement. This makes it difficult to sit and walk.  People with dyskinetic CP have uncontrollable movements that are either slow and flailing, or rapid and. It can sometimes affect the face and tongue, making it difficult to suck, swallow, and talk. Dyskinetic CP can cause changes in one’s muscle tone, which can vary from too tight to too lose. It can change from day to day or even multiple times in one day.

Ataxic cerebral palsy affects one’s balance and coordination. It can cause the person with ataxic CP to walk unsteadily. It can affect one’s ability to write or other movements that require some sort of control. Ataxic CP can affect one’s ability with quick movements. It can also cause one to struggle with controlling their hands or arms when reaching for something.

Some people may have symptoms that indicate more than one kind of CP. This is known as mixed CP. The most common form of mixed CP is spastic-dyskinetic.

Screening and Diagnosing CP

To properly screen and diagnose cerebral palsy, you must first keep track of your child’s growth and development. If you have any concerns about your child’s development, have your child tested for developmental delays. This involves a developmental screening, which is a short test that determines whether a child has motor or movement delays. If the results show some concern, your doctor can make referrals for further developmental and medical evaluations.

CP Treatment

botox cerebral palsy

Botox and Cerebral Palsy

While there is no cure for CP, treatment can improve the lives of people living with the condition. One must undergo treatment as soon as they can.

Upon CP diagnosis, a team of healthcare professionals will work with the child and family to develop a long-term plan for the child’s development. Treatment includes medication, surgery, braces, and therapy (occupational, physical, and speech). CP requires different kinds of treatment to ensure the overall well-being of those diagnosed with it. What is most important is that you discuss treatment with a doctor to understand the benefits and risks that different kinds of treatment may have on your child.

What exactly is Botox?  

Botulinum toxin type B, most commonly known as Botox, is a toxin produced by the bacteria Clostridium botulinum, which can block communication between nerves in muscles. It is administered through injection into the muscles.

What has Botox been approved for?

The FDA approved Botox for several conditions. They include an overactive bladder, abnormal underarm sweating, fine line wrinkles, cervical dystonia, uncontrollable blinking, and severe migraines. However, the FDA has also permitted medical providers the option of using Botox, at their discretion, to treat health issues not necessarily approved by them.

How can Botox treat CP?

Botox treats CP by loosening and lengthening muscles temporarily. It can be used as an alternative to surgery, which can cause complications such as the inability to walk at all. After a Botox injection, muscles or even an entire limb is placed into an orthopedic device such as a cast. This device helps stretch the muscle into a shape that will provide long-term benefits for the child. The cast stays in place for a few weeks until the Botox wears off.

Are there complications?

Despite the fact that Botox is a toxin, it is administered in small doses. This makes it unlikely that a child might experience serious complications. The most serious complication involving Botox would be paralysis. However, there continues to be a small risk of serious side effects. Always speak to your doctor, who will give provide you with the best course of action regarding treatment.

What have studies shown?

A study conducted by Polish researchers concluded that Botox therapy is effective in children with CP “regardless of the number of sessions.” They also wrote that the best results occurred in children younger than 7 with hemiplegia. In addition, “treatment gain was highest up to 3 months after injection.” They concluded that Botox therapy is safe enough to be repeatedly used every three to six months.

The study involved researchers analyzing the long-term effects of repeat Botox treatment over the course of several years. The participants were CP-stricken children between the ages of two and sixteen. The researchers noted that treatment appeared to be effective for a three-month span. They also noticed that Botox improved muscle tone and motion range for children with hemiplegia than children with diplegia.

Should I have my child undergo Botox treatment for their CP?

While scientific studies provide evidence that Botox can treat CP, always consult your doctor or other healthcare professional before undergoing any sort of treatment. They must always be the first person you turn to when considering treatment for your child. CP can vary from person to person, making it important that your child undergoes a careful assessment that will determine appropriate levels of treatment.

Contact Miller & Zois About Cerebral Palsy Malpractice

Many cases of cerebral palsy directly result from medical error or negligence during the labor and delivery process.  No doctor or nurse will tell you this.   Obstetricians and hospitals are doing everything they can to, including making up their own ridiculous standards, to convince you to never bring a claim (and a jury if you do).

That is the bad news. The good is that if you do have a case supported by the real science and medicine, you can win and take care of your child.  But you need the best possible lawyer to fight for you.

If your child has cerebral palsy because of a mistake or bad judgment by the doctors and hospital staff, you have every right to seek legal compensation.  The birth injury attorneys at Miller & Zois can help investigate your case and get you the best possible results.  Call Miller & Zois today at 800-553-8082 or get a free online consultation.