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Expert Pediatric Care for Spasticity Management

Spasticity is when certain muscles remain contracted. This muscle tightness interferes with normal movement, speech, balance and use of the hands or feet.

Spasticity usually occurs from damage to the part of the brain or spinal cord that controls voluntary movement. Some common causes of spasticity include cerebral palsy (CP), traumatic brain injury (TBI), spinal cord injury, stroke and spinal muscular atrophy, a hereditary and progressive disease.

The experienced spasticity management team at Arkansas Children’s provides the most advanced diagnostic tools and interventional therapies for improved quality of life for our young patients with spasticity issues. As a dedicated children’s hospital, we bring together highly respected pediatric specialists and advanced care facilities — as well as extensive collaboration with therapists and child life staff. We expertly diagnose and treat spasticity and the related health conditions that challenge children and their families today.

Treatments at Our Pediatric Spasticity Clinic

Children with spasticity are first evaluated by a child neurologist at our Pediatric Spasticity Clinic to determine an appropriate individualized treatment plan. Treatment options may include:

  • Noninvasive procedures: Including medications and therapies, these options typically are used as the first line of treatment. Children engage in physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy to see if these proven modalities can ease their spasticity issues.
  • Orthotics: Orthotics such as braces, splints and serial casting are used to help mechanically support and stabilize parts of the body affected by paralyzed or weak muscles. These are divided into three categories: lower extremity, upper extremity and spinal.  We strive to improve quality of life for patients and their families by providing assistant devices, including bars to help children rise from the toilet, shower chairs and wheelchair resources.
  • Botox® injections: Botox is injected locally and has become a standard of care treatment for overactive muscles in children with spasticity. Botox, or botulinum toxin, relaxes contracted muscles by keeping nerve cells from over-activating them. A Botox injection will typically relax the muscle for about three months.  The experienced team of providers at our Spasticity and Intrathecal Baclofen Pump Clinic evaluate our patients and manage the use of Botox to treat their spasticity.
  • Baclofen pump implantation: Intrathecal baclofen therapy is when a pump placed in the child’s abdomen delivers a muscle relaxant called baclofen into the fluid surrounding the spinal cord. The amount of baclofen released can be adjusted if spasticity is worse at certain times of the day. Since the pump reduces muscle spasticity throughout the body, it is most appropriate for children with chronic, severe stiffness or uncontrolled muscle movement throughout the body.  The Spasticity and Intrathecal Baclofen Pump Clinic at Arkansas Children’s takes a team approach to evaluating spasticity treatments. Our neurologists, advanced practice nurses, physical therapists and others help diagnosis and provide ongoing management of children using baclofen pump therapy. 
  • Selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR): A surgical procedure, SDR is used primarily for children with cerebral palsy. It has undergone more thorough scientific scrutiny than any other procedure and has been shown to help with balance by removing the nerves that trigger the abnormal muscle contractions.  
  • Tendon surgeries: For patients with contractures, a severe form of spasticity, our neurosurgeons can perform tendon lengthening, tendon resection and tendon transfers.

Complex Care Clinic Follows Children Long-Term

Arkansas Children’s is committed to caring for patients and families for short-term issues, but more importantly for long-term care and disease management. Our Complex Care Clinic is designed to help children diagnosed with multiple complex conditions — including conditions such as cerebral palsy that may cause spasticity.

Led by a fellowship-trained pediatrician with experience in complex care, our Complex Care Clinic team addresses each child’s acute needs and follows them over time. As new techniques are established and approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), we make them available to our patients so families can count on the most current therapies from our team at Arkansas Children’s.

For More Information about Spasticity Management

To learn more about the expert care of pediatric spasticity at Arkansas Children’s, please contact one of our team members at any of our convenient locations.