Botox Shots Help Kids With Cerebral Palsy

Regimen strengthens muscles weakened by the disease, doctors explain

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WEDNESDAY, Feb. 8, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- When given in combination with physical therapy, Botox injections can help strengthen weak muscles and possibly restore normal movement in children with cerebral palsy, researchers report.

In people with cerebral palsy, the brain loses the ability to moderate the activity of contracting muscles, which are stronger than muscles that produce extension, explained pediatric neurologist Dr. Pedro Weisleder, of Duke Children's Hospital in Durham, N.C. Using Botox to partially paralyze the stronger muscles gives cerebral palsy patients an opportunity to stretch and strengthen the weaker muscles.

The Botox is injected into a child's stronger muscles during an outpatient visit and the partially paralyzing effect on these muscles generally lasts about three months. During that time, the children work with a physical therapist to stretch and strengthen their weaker muscles, Weisleder said.

The long-term goal of this combined Botox/physical therapy treatment is to achieve better muscle strength balance, which may help restore normal muscle function, he said.

Not every cerebral palsy patient will benefit from this approach and the amount of Botox a child can receive at each visit is limited by their body size, Weisleder said.

More information

The Nemours Foundation has more about cerebral palsy.

SOURCE: Duke University, news release, Jan. 31, 2006

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