Cerebral palsy medical therapy
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Pharmacologic medical therapies for cerebral palsy include botulinum toxin, intrathecal baclofen, and oral antispastics. The management of cerebral palsy should be individualized according to the patient's need and status of the disease. The disease itself is not progressive but the presentations might change with the maturation of the brain and the development of the skeletal system. Medical therapy aims at improvement of the motor function through relieving the spasticity of the limbs and preventing the occurrence of convulsions.
- Botulinum toxin acts on the neuromuscular junction preventing the release of acetylcholine.
- It has a relaxant effect on the muscles undergoing contractures.
- Primarily used if there are contractures causing deformity or jeopardizing the nearby joints.
- The injections cause temporary improvement in the function of the affected limbs.
- Botulinum toxin injections may decrease the joint and bone deformities resulting from the contractures especially if combined with casting.
- Children under four years in the early stages of contractures are the most category of patients to benefit from botulinum toxin.
- Botulinum toxin delays the need for a surgery and decreases the magnitude of intervention.
- The effect is temporary and the injection has to be repeated every three to six months.
- Generalized weakness due to the global effect of the drug was reported.
- The dose of botulinum toxin A is 20-30 unit/kg divided between the injected limbs. The dose should not exceed 1000 units.
- Baclofen is administered through a pump into the subarachnoid space.
- It can achieve higher CSF levels of the drug with less side effects.
- It acts by blocking the I-a sensory afferents.
- It is indicated in the patients with the highest of spasticity that is causing dysfunction and pain not responding to the more conventional methods of treatment.
- It carries more risk of complications than other non interventional lines of treatment.
- The pump must refilled every month together with assessment for the occurrence of complications.
- Complications such as hypotonia and confusion occur in about half of the patients.
- The dose is adjusted by the physician according to the response and the development of side effects.
Oral muscle relaxants
- Binds to GABA receptors and causes presynaptic inhibition of the neurotransmission.
- Most useful for acute cases of severe spasticity.
- Due to its muscle relaxing effect, it can aggravate the swallowing difficulties and cause aspiration.
- GABA analogue and causes presynaptic inhibition of neurotransmission.
- Much less effective than intrathecal baclofen.
- Direct muscle relaxant by inhibiting the release of Ca+2 from the sarcoplasmic reticulum.
- Used only in the short term for treatment of acute cases of severe hypertonicity.
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