Botox vs. Cerebral Palsy

Sep 03rd, 2013 | by Bryan LaScala
Bryan LaScala

Bryan LaScala

September 03rd, 2013

Botulinum toxin, more commonly known as Botox, has become a popular procedure in the fight against aging. But have you ever heard of any of its’ other benefits?

Botulinum toxin is a drug made from a toxin produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum (nlm.nih.gov). As stated by WebMD.com, “when a small amount of Botox is injected into a muscle, it blocks nerve signals that tell your muscles to contract”. It may do wonders in smoothing the wrinkles of adult skin, however, Botox has also been reported to have medical benefits for children with cerebral palsy (CP), especially when paired with occupational and physical therapy.

Botox was first reported as a treatment for spasticity in children with CP in 1993 (pediatricsdigest.mobi). Spasticity is commonly found in people with CP. According to CerebralPalsy.com, spasticity implies increased muscle tone. For those with spastic (pyramidal) cerebral palsy, muscles are constantly contracting, making limbs stiff, rigid, and resistant to flexing or relaxing.

A review article in Basic Neurosciences, Genetics and Immunology states that there is growing evidence showing the beneficial effects of botulinum toxin type A (BoNT-A) in decreasing muscle tone in children with spasticity associated with CP.

In a study from The Journal of Hand Surgery, results show evidence that a statistically higher percentage of children receiving BoNT-A injections show an improvement in the Melbourne Assessment of Unilateral Upper Limb Function compared with those receiving a placebo.

The outcome of a study in the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation indicates that the combination of BoNT-A and OT results in accelerated attainment of functional goals. Another study from The Journal of International Medical Research concludes that BoNT-A improves muscle tension and motor function, however, rehabilitation following BoNT-A, results in greater improvements to motor function than just BoNT-A alone.

The American Academy of Neurology also conducted a study that showed BoNT-A has been established as an effective treatment to reduce spasticity, however, there is conflicting evidence regarding functional improvement. Even though the FDA has approved Botox as a cosmetic treatment against wrinkles, it has not been approved as a treatment of CP.

Botox has been found to be generally safe in children with CP, and is still recommended by neurology groups regardless of the FDA’s disapproval.


  1. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/botox.html
  2. http://www.webmd.com/beauty/botox/botulinum-toxin-botox
  3. http://www.pediatricsdigest.mobi/content/120/1/49.short
  4. http://www.neurology.org/content/74/4/336.full.pdf+html?sid=41e47291-6176-4855-9e61-ed4945e0cfb8
  5. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0363502312018084
  6. http://cerebralpalsy.org/about-cerebral-palsy/types/
  7. http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00702-008-0175-8#page-1
  8. http://www.disabilityscoop.com/2010/01/25/botox-cp-2/6744/
  9. http://imr.sagepub.com/content/41/3/636.full
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