Spasticity care at Norton Children’s
Norton Children’s board-certified neurosurgeons are led by Thomas M. Moriarity, M.D., Ph.D., a recognized leader in the field with deep experience and specialized training.
Our physicians have the sophisticated tools and skill to give you and your child a precise diagnosis and a treatment plan for spasticity that minimizes risk, so your child can get back to being a kid.
Spasticity refers to a muscle control disorder that involves tight or stiff muscles that can’t be controlled.
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. We call this spasticity.
Spasticity affects nearly 80 percent of people with cerebral palsy. It can prevent normal muscle movement and make it harder for your 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 deformity 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 lower doses are required. That can help minimize side effects on your child.
- 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 the 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 default option for treating spasticity, but it may be the best option for your child. Our care team at Norton Children’s Hospital can help you determine what treatment options can provide the most relief and best outcome for your child.
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