There is a number of medications used to reduce cerebral palsy symptoms, whether it be to control seizures, diminish spasms, for pain relief, digestion aids, and more. Medications are generally prescribed when other options fail to work, and they’re often accompanied by physical therapy program.
Anticonvulsants are prescribed to patients with cerebral palsy who experience seizures. The role of anticonvulsants is to reduce brain stimulation, which in turn, control the severity of seizures and reduces that amount that patients experience. Since there are varying types of seizures, there are also various types of anticonvulsants medications. Physicians will prescribe the type of seizure medications that match your child’s needs, but the most common types prescribed include:
- Carbatrol or Tegretol
Each medication, typical of most medications, comes with its own set of side effects and will affect each patient differently. To learn more about anticonvulsants, refer to our article, Cerebral Palsy and Seizure Medications.
Muscle relaxers, as the name implies, are prescribed to children (and adults) with cerebral palsy to help control, manage, and reduce stiff muscles, contracting muscles, and muscle spasms. Muscle relaxer medications are administered via injections, orally by tablet form, or through a baclofen pump implanted into the child’s abdomen.
The type of muscle relaxer your child needs (if any) will depend on medical history and individual health circumstances. The most common types of muscle relaxers prescribed to children with cerebral palsy include:
Muscle relaxers also come with unique side effects. Be certain to discuss this issue with your physician beforehand. For further information, refer to our article, Cerebral Palsy and Muscle Relaxers.
Anticholinergic medications are prescribed to children (and adults) with cerebral palsy for numerous issues, such as uncontrollable limb and face movements, muscle spasms, tremors, and excessive drooling. Anticholinergics work by blocking the area of the brain that causes muscle movement, which in turn helps control many of the most common symptoms that people with cerebral palsy face. Some children find that small doses of anticholinergic medications, which act as a depressant, are beneficial enough, whereas other children will require higher dosages.
The most common types of anticholinergic medications prescribed to children with cerebral palsy include:
- Benztropine mesylate
- Trihexyphenidyl hydrochloride
For additional information on anticholinergic medications, including side effects and more, refer to our article, Cerebral Palsy and Anticholinergic Medications.
Antidepressant medications help alter moods and enhance well-being. These types of drugs aren’t for everyone and are usually reserved for people with cerebral palsy that are experiencing depression, anxiety, and other mental and emotional problems that sometimes come from living with a debilitating disorder. Antidepressants are generally used in combination with counseling and/or emotional/behavioral therapy.
Types of antidepressants described can vary greatly, but the following are some of the most common:
Antidepressants come with a variety of side effect, but each person is affected differently. For additional, in-depth information on how antidepressants work and the associated side effects, refer to our article, Cerebral Palsy and Antidepressants.
Pain Control Medication
Pain control medication, or anti-inflammatory medication, help to control pain by reducing inflammation. Over 60% of all people with cerebral palsy will experience chronic, long-lasting pain, but when over-the-counter drugs fail to work, a doctor may prescribe an anti-inflammatory medication.
Common types of pain control medication prescribed to cerebral palsy patients include:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Prescription-based aspirin
Pain medications come with side effects, so it’s important to discuss this with your child’s doctor beforehand. For additional information, refer to our article, Cerebral Palsy and Pain Medication.
Complementary and Alternative Medication
Some parents and loved ones may rather have their children take natural, homeopathic medications as opposed to traditional drugs, whereas others may try alternatives when the first line of prescribed medications fail to work. Others use complementary and alternative options in combination with traditional drugs.
Complementary and alternative medications generally consist of:
- Biological-based alternative treatments (nature-derived medications)
- Manipulative and body-based method
- Energy therapies
- Movement therapies
- Mind and body methods (typical in Chinese-based medical interventions)
For additional, in-depth information about each type of complementary and alternative medication, refer to our article, Cerebral Palsy and Complementary and Alternative Medications.
Medical marijuana is considered an alternative, biological-based medical treatment, but with the increase of research and information, there’s a possibility it may become a standard line of treatment for people with cerebral palsy. Some states are already prescribing it for pain relief and seizure control. For children, CBD oil tends to be a popular option for treatment in some states.
For more information about medical marijuana, including legalities, dosage, side effects, and more, refer to our article, Cerebral Palsy and Medical Marijuana.