Cerebral palsy study

Tuesday, 05 February, 2002

A collaborative study is under way in Victoria, using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) of the brain to assess the effect of Botulinum toxin A on learned arm movements in children with cerebral palsy.

This study is a collaboration between three research institutes; the Murdoch Children's Research Institute (MCRI), the faculty of Health Sciences at LaTrobe University and the Brain Research Institute (BRI).

Current research involves the use of functional MRI (fMRI) to demonstrate the link between greater mobility of the affected arm and improved brain function. The study is the first of its kind in the world to use serial fMRI on young children with cerebral palsy to measure the outcomes of treatment.

"Internationally, this study represents a unique application of the BRI's high field 3 Tesla MRI system," said Professor Graeme Jackson, Director of the BRI. "Children as young as five and up to 15 years of age are taking part in the study, which involves three serial brain scans, one at baseline, another at three weeks and the third at 12 weeks."

There is no cure for cerebral palsy. Botox has been demonstrated to be effective in helping young children who walk on their toes. Current research continues at the MCRI to see if Botulinum toxin A may be effective in preventing hip displacement and its impact on arm function.

There is sufficient evidence to show that Botulinum toxin A injection into muscles affected by spasticity is effective for children who walk on toes and it is now listed with the Pharmaceutical Benefits scheme for this indication in Australia. Further research is now needed to demonstrate the effectiveness of Botulinum toxin A for arm problems in children with CP.

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