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Anticonvulsants for Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy is a group of disorders affecting the body’s motor functions.  Some cerebral palsy patients suffer from seizures, which can range in length and severity.  There have been many cases of positive results stemming from treatment with anticonvulsant medication for cerebral palsy.

Anticonvulsants work in the brain to suppress abnormal or hyperactive brain activity.  The seizures suffered by cerebral palsy patients are typically caused by overloads of “messages” sent from the brain to the nerves and muscles.  Anticonvulsants help in stopping these seizures in cerebral palsy sufferers by blocking these messages.

Most seizures that happen in cerebral palsy patients are either complex-partial or tonic-clonic (aka grand mal).  Seizures are fairly common in cerebral palsy patients, up to one quarter have tonic-clonic seizures and about half of people with cerebral palsy have complex-partial seizures.

Tonic-clonic seizures usually involve a full loss of motor function.  The person falls to the ground after briefly crying out.  Their muscles become very tight and stiff and their hands and feet begin to twitch.  Afterwards, the person may be confused for some time that can be up to a few weeks.

A complex partial seizure doesn’t involve the convulsions that a tonic-clonic seizure has.  Some complex partial seizures may lead to grand mal seizures. A complex partial seizure manifests in varying degrees of severity but is usually marked by a partial lack of consciousness.  This may be as slight as being forgetful, but may be as serious as to cause impaired walking.  Most people who suffer a complex partial seizure do not remember the event.

Anticonvulsants help stem these seizures in cerebral palsy patients.  There are different types of anticonvulsant medications available but the most typical fall generally into the families of barbiturates and benzodiazepines.  Examples of anticonvulsants include Topamax, Lamictal, Trileptal, Zonegran, and Neurontin.

These anticonvulsants tend to limit the excessive electrical activity that occurs in cerebral palsy related seizures.  There have been many successes in treating these seizures with anticonvulsants.

Side effects of anticonvulsant medication include drowsiness, dizziness, irritability, confusion, vomiting, uncontrolled eye movements, gingivitis, and itching or a rash.  Anticonvulsants may also interact negatively with other medications that you may be taking.

In all cases, discuss any medication with a doctor and ensure that any prescription is based on the personal and unique set of circumstances surrounding the cerebral palsy symptoms.  Anticonvulsants for cerebral palsy may provide welcome relief from repeated seizure incidents.


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