Thursday, January 04, 2007

Botox: Helping Patients Move Again

Reported January 3, 2007

DURHAM, N.C. (Ivanhoe Broadcast News) -- You've seen the results of people who look years younger after Botox injections. But Botox is turning out to be more than a fountain of youth ... It's becoming a life saver for some people battling serious illness.

Nine-year-old Andrew Carter is not afraid to fall off a horse. And he refuses to let cerebral palsy get the best of him. "I like the jumping," he says. "That's my favorite part."

When Carter tried to move, his muscles would fight him -- jerking him around. It's a condition called spasticity. Botox injections help calm his muscles. He says, "It hurts but I really do think it helps because it loosens me up."

Botulinum toxin is what causes food poisoning, but in patients like Carter, it's targeted to specific muscles.

"It causes partial paralysis in the muscle you inject it into," Orthopedic Surgeon Lewis Andrew Koman, M.D., of Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina, tells Ivanhoe.

Botox is also helping stroke patients, like Ginger Hinshaw, by relaxing muscles. Before Botox, Hinshaw could barely move after her stroke. "My left hand -- if it's not in this splint, my fingers will just be in a knot," she says.

Today, Hinshaw is able to write about what happened to her. She says, "I have a lot of exercises and stretches to do at home to get me ready for my next phase of recovery."

Wake Forest Neurologist Allison Brashear, M.D., says there's no risk -- and patients can take it again and again and again. "The beauty of the drug is that you put the Botox in the arm, and it just stays there."

Botox is also being used to help multiple sclerosis patients and patients with traumatic brain injuries. Injections need to be repeated about every four to six months. There are no known side effects.

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Karen Richardson
Public Relations
Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center
(336) 716-4453