here is no standard treatment or therapy for cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy affects each person differently so treatment must be individually tailored as well. Since there is no cure for cerebral palsy, most doctors focus on finding treatment and therapy geared toward managing or diminishing the neurological problems associated with cerebral palsy.
Therapy and treatments for the symptoms of cerebral palsy are numerous. Most experts agree a combination of treatments, given in conjunction, produce the best results. A cerebral palsy victim’s health care team work together to prescribe a balanced regimen of treatments designed to increase quality of life. An individualized therapy and treatment regimen for cerebral palsy may include:
* Drugs to control muscle spasms and seizure
* Occupational therapy and treatments designed to increase self-sufficiency in cerebral palsy patients.
* Physical therapy to help manage muscle control issues
* Emotional counseling to assist in creating and maintaining a positive self image and attitude
* Treatments in speech and speech therapy to help increase or hone communication skills in cerebral palsy patients.
* Braces or other assistive technology designed to assist movement
* Surgery to reduce spastic contracture of muscles
The Most Successful Treatments and Therapy for Cerebral Palsy
Improvements in the treatment of cerebral palsy are advancing as science progresses. Three treatments and therapy procedures have recently become known as successful in treating cerebral palsy: Botox injections, the Baclofen pump and a surgery called selective dorsal rhizotomy or SDR. Each treatment has its own risks and benefits.
Botox Treatment for Cerebral Palsy
Botox is the brand name for a commercialized version of the Botulism toxin. Doctors use Botox to reduce muscle tightness, increase the ability of a muscle to stretch and to decrease likeliness of permanent muscle contracture. The toxin works by blocking nerve signals passing between the muscle and the spinal column.
Botulinum toxin is one of the most deadly substances known to man. When used in extremely small does it is relatively harmless, unless a person is allergic to the toxin. Poisoning only occurs from the consumption of excessive amounts of Botox.
The benefits seem to far outweigh the risks. Doctors inject Botox into 3 or 4 small muscle groups particularly affected by cerebral palsy. Injections provide measured relief from spastic muscles for around 3 months. Many cerebral palsy patients use the period of relief to work on muscles stretches and range of motion exercises. Botox is expensive and the effect of the treatment is temporary.
Treatment of Cerebral Palsy with the Baclofen Pump
The Baclofen pump is a surgically implanted pump filled with a drug used to reduce muscle spasticity. It is implanted in the lower abdomen and delivers the drug directly to the spinal cord by catheter. Baclofen treatment is known to be extremely effective for some people. Risks include infection from surgery, seizures from overdose and depressed breathing. Statistics indicate the pump is safe and rarely results in any serious complications.
Baclofen has been used orally to reduce muscle spasms for a long time. Doctors discovered the benefits of the drug were increased when applied directly to the nerves causing cerebral palsy symptoms. The pump also produces fewer side effects than when baclofen is taken orally. The benefits of reduced muscle tension increase the quality of life for many people with cerebral palsy.
Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy as a Treatment for Cerebral Palsy
Selective dorsal rhizotomy works best for cerebral palsy patients with spastic diplegia. Selective dorsal rhizotomy is a surgery that reduces muscle stiffness and spasticity in the legs. Several vertebras are removed from the back so a surgeon can reach the spinal cord. Nerves affecting muscles with symptoms of cerebral palsy are cut to reduce spasticity.
Benefits vary from patient to patient and are most prevalent for children under the age of 4. Selective dorsal rhizotomy is different from other cerebral palsy treatment because the benefits are usually lifelong, rather than temporary. Gains in movement result allow increased abilities in walking, breathing, sitting up, bending at the waist, hand use and head control.
Risks center on the surgery itself, not later side effects. Removal of vertebrae can result in back pain and problems. Surgeons always risks cutting too many nerve fibers. If the incorrect fibers are severed the result can be total paralysis.