There are a number of medications used to reduce cerebral palsy symptoms, whether it be to control seizures or muscle spasms, for pain relief, to aid in digestion, and more. Medicines are generally prescribed when other options fail to work, and they can very much improve the symptoms of cerebral palsy, as well as associated conditions.
Anticonvulsants are prescribed for patients with cerebral palsy who experience seizures. The role of anticonvulsants is to reduce brain stimulation, which then helps to control the severity and number of seizures patients experience. Since there are varying types of seizures, there are also different types of anticonvulsant medications, and physicians will prescribe the one matching the patient’s symptoms.
Some of the most common types prescribed include:
Each medication will affect each patient differently and comes with its own set of side effects. 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 and muscle spasms. Muscle relaxants are administered orally by tablet form, via injections, or through a pump implanted into the child’s abdomen.
The type of muscle relaxer your child needs (if any) will depend on the 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 patients with cerebral palsy for numerous issues, such as uncontrollable limb and facial 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 are beneficial, 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
Antidepressant medications help improve 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 can come from living with a debilitating disorder. Antidepressants are generally used in combination with 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 effects, but reactions may differ from patient to patient.
Pain Control Medication
There are different types of pain medication, but one that is used frequently helps to control pain by reducing inflammation. Over 60% of all people with cerebral palsy will experience chronic, long-term pain, and for this, a doctor may prescribe an anti-inflammatory medicine.
Common types of anti-inflammatories prescribed to cerebral palsy patients include:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
Pain medications come with side effects, so it’s important to discuss this with your child’s doctor beforehand.
Complementary and Alternative Medication
Some parents would rather have their children take natural medications as opposed to traditional drugs, whereas others may try alternatives when the first line of prescribed medications fails to relieve symptoms. Others use complementary and alternative options in combination with conventional medicines.
Complementary and alternative medications generally include:
- Biologically-based supplements
- Homeopathic medicines
- Herbal medicines
Medical marijuana is considered an alternative medication, but with the increase of research and information on its use, it may become a more common treatment for people with cerebral palsy. Some states are already allowing it to be prescribed for pain relief and seizure control.
For more information about medical marijuana, including legalities, dosage, side effects, and more, refer to our article, Cerebral Palsy and Medical Marijuana.