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Cerebral Palsy - Medications

Medicines can help control some of the symptoms of cerebral palsy (CP), prevent or minimize complications, and treat other medical conditions related to CP.

Medicine choices

Muscle relaxants (antispasmodics) are the most common medicines used for people who have CP. They can help relax tight muscles and reduce muscle spasms. Most antispasmodics are taken by mouth. Some are injected directly into stiff or spastic muscles. Examples include:

Anticonvulsants help prevent or control seizures. These include:

Anticholinergics help some people who have CP who have uncontrollable body movements (dystonic cerebral palsy) or who drool often. These include:

Stool softeners and mild laxatives may help treat constipation, which is a common complaint of people who have CP.

What to think about

Some doctors believe that oral antispasmodic medicines should not be given to growing children. They are concerned that side effects from these medicines can cause problems for children that are worse than the tight muscles and muscle spasms related to CP. For example, drowsiness is a side effect that may interfere with a child's ability to concentrate and learn in school. Other doctors believe that the benefits of these medicines outweigh the risk of side effects.

Ask your doctor the following questions about any medicine prescribed for your child:

  • How successful is it in treating my child's problem?
  • What are the short-term and long-term side effects?
  • What are the chances that the medicine will stop working? What options are available if this happens?
  • How might it affect my child's growth and development?

See the new medicine information form(What is a PDF document?) for more questions to ask.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: September 20, 2012
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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