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Jeff Brody
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Drug Therapy for Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy (CP) is a group of disorders usually caused by an injury to the brain before, during, or after birth.  The disorder usually manifests itself as a motor related dysfunction and can vary in severity from a slight limp to severe lack of muscle control where even wheelchairs are difficult to manage.  The exact cause of a particular case of cerebral palsy may never be found, but the disorder could be related to a medical accident occurring during delivery.

There are several types of drugs that have shown to alleviate symptoms of cerebral palsy.  The drugs are usually taken over a lifetime, however, and do not cure the disorder.  There is no cure for cerebral palsy.  Drug therapy for cerebral palsy is usually for calming muscle spasms and contractions.  Most of the drugs act as relaxing agents and aid in stopping the muscles of the cerebral palsy sufferer from contracting uncontrollably.

Drug therapy for cerebral palsy generally consists of three main drugs used for controlling spastic muscles:  Diazepam, Baclofen, and Dantrolene.  Diazepam, also known as Valium, is effective in a total body relaxation, resulting in less muscle contractions.  Baclofen is a muscle relaxant used in controlling spasticity, blocking nerve signals from the spinal cord.  Dantrolene interferes in the actual muscle tissue’s natural contraction mechanisms, which result in fewer contractions.  Flexeril is another type of muscle relaxant that blocks nerve impulses.  Flexeril is not typically prescribed as drug therapy for CP.

Long-term use of these drugs could have serious side effects that may compound the already existing problems the cerebral palsy sufferer has.  Thorough consultation with a doctor should always precede any prescription or taking of prescription medication for cerebral palsy.

Anti-cholinergics can also be prescribed as part of a drug therapy for cerebral palsy.  These drugs improve the body’s responses and control and are usually given to patients suffering from awkward movements associated with cerebral palsy.

Another type of drug therapy for cerebral palsy is alcohol washes, which are injections of alcohol and tend to reduce muscle spasticity for a small amount of time.  Botox A, popularized by its use in reducing wrinkles, has shown a fair amount of success in stemming muscle spasticity as well.  Alcohol washes can be used in treating contractures due to cerebral palsy.  Both forms of drug therapy are short term, however.

There are many drugs used in therapy for cerebral palsy patients who have seizures.  These are anti-seizure medicines and include Depakene, Dilantin, Epival, Klonopin, Tegretol, and Zarontin. 

As with all treatments for cerebral palsy, consult your physician and keep an eye on developing side effects. 

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