Drug Therapy

  • Seizures – Medications are very effective in preventing seizures in many patients. In general, the drugs given to individual patients are chosen based on the type of seizures, since no one drug controls all types. However, different people with the same type of seizure may do better on different drugs, and some individuals may need a combination of two or more drugs to achieve good seizure control.
  • Spasticity – Drugs are also sometimes used to control spasticity, particularly following surgery. The three medications that are used most often are:
    • diazepam, which acts as a general relaxant of the brain and body;
    • baclofen, which blocks signals sent from the spinal cord to contract the
      muscles;
    • dantrolene, which interferes with the process of muscle contraction.
  • Abnormal Movements – Patients with athetoid cerebral palsy may sometimes be given drugs that help reduce abnormal movements. These drugs include:
    • trihexyphenidyl,
    • benztropine, and
    • procyclidine hydrochloride

Alcohol Washes. Occasionally, physicians may use alcohol "washes" — or injections of alcohol into a muscle — to reduce spasticity for a short period. This technique is most often used when physicians want to correct a developing contracture. Injecting alcohol into a muscle that is too short weakens the muscle for several weeks and gives physicians time to work on lengthening the muscle through bracing, therapy, or casts. In some cases, if the contracture is detected early enough, this technique may avert the need for surgery.