Medicines can help control some of the
cerebral palsy (CP), prevent or minimize
complications, and treat
other medical conditions related to CP.
Antispasmodics are the most common medicines used for
people with CP. They can help relax tight muscles and reduce muscle
spasms. Most antispasmodics are taken orally and include:
Baclofen may also be given using a method called intrathecal
baclofen (ITB). For this, a small pump is placed under the skin of the abdomen.
This pump releases baclofen into the fluid around the spinal cord. ITB may be
more helpful than taking a pill at relieving severe spasms. But it is harder to
do than pills and has some risks (such as infection where the pump is
Injectable antispasmodics, which are
injected directly into stiff or spasmatic muscles, are sometimes used to help
them relax. These medicines typically remain effective for about 3 to 8 months,
depending on the type used. Injectable antispasmodics used for treating CP
Anticonvulsants are used as treatment for people with
CP who have seizures. These include:
Anticholinergics help a minority of people with CP who
have uncontrollable body movements (dystonic cerebral palsy) or who drool
frequently. These include:
Stool softeners and mild laxatives may help treat
constipation, which is a common complaint of people who have CP.
What To Think About
Medicine for cerebral palsy (CP)
targets individual needs. Unfortunately, medicine has had limited success in
treating CP, especially the types that involve involuntary movements (athetoid
type of dyskinetic cerebral palsy).
Botulinum toxin may be more useful than antispasmodic pills for treating
Some medicines used to treat CP have serious side effects. For
example, dantrolene sodium (Dantrium) can cause liver damage, so frequent blood
tests are needed while taking this medicine. And in rare cases, the use of
botulinum toxin is related to severe side effects, such as trouble breathing or
Some doctors believe that the most commonly used
medicines to treat CP (diazepam [such as Valium], baclofen [Lioresal], and
dantrolene [Dantrium]) should not be given to growing children. They are
concerned that the side effects from these medicines can cause problems for
children that are more severe than the tight muscles and muscle spasms related
to CP. For example, one side effect of these medicines is drowsiness.
Drowsiness may interfere with a child's ability to concentrate and learn in
school. Other doctors believe that the benefits of these medicines outweigh the
risk of side effects.
Ask your doctor the following questions
about any medicine prescribed for your child:
- How successful is it in treating your child's
- What are the short-term and long-term side
- What are the chances that the medicine will stop working?
Discuss what options are available if this happens.
- How might it
affect your child's growth and development?
new medicine information form(What is a PDF document?) for more questions to ask.