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Botox for Cerebral Palsy
Botulinum Toxin A (aka Botox, or BTA) has been used in treating various effects of cerebral palsy for years. Some success has been seen in treatments of muscle spasms, "tiptoe"? walking, and, more recently, the side effect of drooling. Varying degrees of the medicine are injected into different parts of the body, depending on the severity or instance of the offending symptom.
BTA injections can help with providing relief to certain cerebral palsy children by straightening their spasmodic legs, which can cramp up and either prevent ambulation, or make walking very difficult and awkward. BTA can also be effective when injected into hip muscles, upper body problems, or any localized muscle spasmodic occurrence.
BTA treatment can also be used for tiptoe walking, known as "pes equinus,"? which has been used with varying degrees of success. Tiptoe walking occurs when a child with cerebral palsy has a certain amount of spasticity in the legs and cannot place their feet flatly onto the floor. Using BTA to relax the muscles of the calves, medical practitioners have seen some success in helping children regain a short-term flat footedness, which relieves some of the spasmodic contractions in their legs and calves. This treatment can help with balance improvement and stability as well.
Botox injections are also seen as helpful in preventing any problems that may develop on top of existing ones, such as permanent fixed contractures (shortening of muscles), abnormality in bone structure, and joint weakness.
In addition, Botox injections in the saliva glands have more recently been seen to minimize the side effect of drooling, which can lead to health and social problems in children with cerebral palsy. The dry mouth associated with Botox injections was a side effect of the drug, but was utilized by medical practitioners to stem drooling in children with cerebral palsy.
The drug injections usually don't manifest symptoms of recovery until a few days after the injections. The effects are usually long lasting, however, and depending on the amount and where it was injected, Botox therapy for cerebral palsy can last from 4 to 8 months.
BTA injections have a low rate of side effects. The therapeutic sessions involving the injections require multiple visits, however, and involve needle injections that may produce pain or discomfort in the child. As with all sorts of therapy, BTA treatments should only be administered after a clear success rate and low incidence of side effects in the afflicted child and only by a board-certified surgeon.