Cerebral palsy is a health complication that affects a child’s growth and development from birth. For many children, the complication often results in wheelchair confinement before adolescence. If your child has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy, it is important to become familiar with the varying types of treatment options that will aid your child in continued mobility for as long as is feasibly possible.

Muscle spasms in the legs of children with cerebral palsy are quite common. As your child ages, the muscle spasms may become so severe that the use of leg braces and crutches will no longer be of benefit. For many children, referral for aggressive and passive physical therapy will be vital to long term mobility and function. However, beyond this, some parents are confused as to what treatment is in the best interest of their child’s health.

Physical therapy, while effective in prolonging mobility in children with cerebral palsy, is not the only treatment option available. For children with cerebral palsy, the use of Botox injections may also prove beneficial. If you are wondering Do we really need Botox? Then here are the reasons why Botox is really helpful for the treatment of Cerebral palsy. 

Because botulinum toxin types A acts upon the neuromuscular system, reducing muscle spasms, children with cerebral palsy often obtain injections as a way to supplement and improve their therapeutic outcomes. For some parents, however, deciding what level of botulinum toxin type A is appropriate is often left to the discretion of the treating doctors.

As a parent who cares for a child with cerebral palsy, it is important to understand what impact a higher volume of botulinum toxin type A may do for your child. While some doctors insist on prescribing lower volume doses, in an effort to reduce acute pain, in the long term your child may benefit from a higher volume. In fact, in children who have been administered a higher volume of botulinum toxin type A, there was an immediate improvement in the dynamic range of motion and a significant reduction in muscle tone. While your child’s doctor may indicate that pain at the injection site will be more severe with a higher volume injection, this simply may not be the case.

There are some risks associated with a higher volume injection in cerebral palsy children. Some risks include leakage of the medication into adjacent muscles, thereby paralyzing those muscles and impacting mobility. However, most cerebral palsy children do not experience this complication. Because of the long term health benefit, in prolonging the relaxation of the leg muscles and improving ankle range of motion, the high volume dosage of Botox should be considered for your child.

Sources: Journal of Pediatric Orthopedics 1998; 18: 305-309. American Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation 2004; 83: 767-771.