Spasticity Care at Norton Children’s

The Norton Children’s board-certified neurosurgical team is led by Thomas M. Moriarty, M.D., Ph.D., a recognized leader in the field with extensive experience and specialized training. Our physicians have the sophisticated tools and skills to give you and your child a precise diagnosis and treatment plan for spasticity that minimizes risk, so your child can get back to being a kid again.

Spasticity refers to a muscular disorder that involves tight or stiff muscles that can’t be controlled.

Understanding Spasticity

Our bodies are able to stay upright and move because of a complex system that contracts some muscles and relaxes other muscles simultaneously. When this system is disrupted, muscles can begin to tighten involuntarily and out of sync with the rest of the body. This is called spasticity.

Spasticity affects nearly 80% of people with cerebral palsy. It can prevent normal muscle movement and make it harder for a child’s bones and muscles to grow. Some children may experience issues with their posture. Spasticity can lead to other conditions such as contractures, joint deformities and scoliosis, among others.

Surgical Treatment Options for Spasticity

  • Oral baclofen is a medication that helps relax certain muscles in the body. High doses of oral baclofen can relieve spasms, cramps and tightness in muscles. Your health care provider may recommend surgically inserting an intrathecal baclofen pump. Placed in the abdomen, this pump sends baclofen directly to the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord, which means the medication can be given in a lower dose. That can help minimize side effects.
  • Spasticity in the lower half of the body may be treated through dorsal rhizotomy. A neurosurgeon cuts the dorsal roots of spinal nerves as they leave the spinal column. This helps disrupt the pathways carrying the spastic messages back and forth to your child’s legs. The surgery can help improve your child’s ability to sit, increase range of motion in the knees and ease movement. This surgery has little to no effect on the upper half of the body.

Nonsurgical Treatments for Spasticity

Neurosurgery isn’t the only option for treating spasticity, but it may be the best option for your child. The Norton Children’s neurosciences care team can help determine what treatment options may provide the most relief and best outcome for your child.

Why Norton Children’s Neuroscience Institute?

  • The Norton Children’s Hospital Comprehensive Epilepsy Center is a Level 4 epilepsy center, the highest rating available from the National Association of Epilepsy Centers. Norton Children’s Hospital has held this designation since 2013.
  • We are the first in Kentucky and among the first in the nation to use neurostimulation in a pediatric patient.
  • Regional neurology care is available for children across Kentucky and Southern Indiana. We travel to clinics in Bowling Green, Campbellsville, Corbin, Elizabethtown, Frankfort, Owensboro and Paducah, Kentucky; and Evansville, Indiana. We also perform a number of telemedicine visits each week.
  • The specialists with Norton Children’s Neuroscience Institute, affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine, use state-of-the-art technology to treat epilepsy, uncontrollable seizures and deep brain tumors in children who, in the past, would not be candidates for surgery, including:
    • Visualase: Technology that allows neurosurgeons to perform MRI-guided laser ablation surgery. Fewer than two dozen pediatric hospitals in the U.S. offer this technology.
    • Surgical Theater: Virtual reality technology that creates an immersive 3D view of a patient’s brain, allowing neurosurgeons, the patient and family to see inside the skull and brain to get a greater understanding of the condition and impact of potential procedures. Norton Children’s Hospital is the first hospital in the region to use this technology.
  • We offer dedicated multidisciplinary clinics for brain tumors, traumatic brain injuries, spina bifida, craniofacial injuries and disorders, epilepsy, muscular dystrophy, spasticity, headache/migraine, autism and neurocutaneous disorders.
  • Our multidisciplinary craniofacial program was the first established in the Midwest.
  • We offer a neurogenetics clinic to evaluate and treat children with neurogenetic syndromes.
  • We have a neuropsychology program that specializes in the evaluation of children and teens with a variety of neurological, neurodevelopmental and medical conditions, including brain tumors and epilepsy.
  • Outpatient neurology facilities in downtown Louisville are equipped with in-office electroencephalography (EEG) capabilities and laboratory services in the same building, creating a streamlined, family-centered environment.
  • We offer the region’s first clinic to treat children with immune-mediated neurological disorders.

 

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