Deep brain stimulation appears to ease a common cerebral palsy symptom in young patients, according to a small-scale analysis of patients treated at Cook Children’s Hospital in Texas. The symptom, known as dystonia, is characterized by uncontrollable and sometimes painful muscle contractions.
Deep brain stimulation involves the implantation of a device that sends electrical impulses to certain areas of the brain. The treatment, which has few side effects, has already been shown to have therapeutic benefits for treating dystonia symptoms in adults. However, this new study suggests that young cerebral palsy patients may benefit as well.
“The younger patients do better, probably because the older patients have more fixed orthopedic impairment,” said Dr. Warren A. Marks. He added that most improvement is seen in the arms and that no patient has been able to walk if they were previously unable to.
The study findings are based on the evaluation of seven cerebral palsy patients from age eight to 26 who were followed after the deep brain stimulation for six months to a year. Researchers noted that more extensive studies need to be conducted. They also noted that the results pertain only to treating dystonia and not spasticity, which is another common cerebral palsy symptom.