The term cerebral palsy (CP) includes a range of neurological conditions which appear in early childhood, usually by three years of age. Abnormalities in the brain areas which control muscle movements cause lack of coordination. Movements are either stiff and jerky (known as spasticity), or floppy and random (called ataxia). The child might drag one leg when walking.

There is no cure for CP but there are treatments and management techniques, and depending on the severity of the condition, a child may grow up to have a near-normal adult life. There is also a lot of ongoing research investigating new ways to manage it.

What is Botox?

It’s a very weak version of the botulinum toxin and is very popular as a treatment for wrinkles. When it is injected into a specific muscle, it blocks nerve impulses from reaching that muscle. That prevents the muscle from contracting. Cosmetic surgeons especially use it to treat frown lines, as it prevents a person from frowning, which helps smooth out those habitual lines. Botox has been a treatment for CP for some years when the problem is stiffness and jerkiness of movement. It relaxes some of the muscle tissue to calm down unnecessary movements. This helps a child to walk.

Shriners Hospitals for Children Project

There are research projects in varying stages from planning to completion. One which is currently recruiting participants is being run by Shriners Hospitals for Children and the United Cerebral Palsy Foundation.

One of the disadvantages of using Botox for childhood CP is that Botox treatments are temporary and must be repeated about every six months. That can become expensive and could reduce long-term effectiveness. The Shriners study plans to examine more closely how Botox injections affect walking and what changes they make in the muscles, brain and spinal cord.

This study is focusing on children aged four to twelve who have only one leg affected by CP, and who would normally be having Botox injections in the lower leg. They will be asked to go to a Shriners hospital at intervals for testing and recording of muscle movements and reflexes, brain activity, and changes in the muscle, brain, and spinal cord. It is hoped that the study will increase understanding of how to use Botox for longer-lasting effect.

If you would like to know more about this study, the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) website has contact information. Cerebral palsy can be caused during birth by medical negligence. If you have a child with CP and are wondering whether you might have a valid case for medical malpractice, please call or email our office for a free consultation.