Medication for Dystonia

Is There Effective Medication for Dystonia?

Dyskinetic cerebral palsy is a subtype of cerebral palsy that is characterized by involuntary muscle contractions that cause abnormal posturing and movements. Dystonia and Choreoathetosis, both of which are characterised by involuntary or repetitive movements, are the two most dominant movement disorders in patients with dyskinetic cerebral palsy.

While various interventions have been used to manage dystonia in the past years, quality evidence on medication (pharmacotherapy) is limited according to researchers. For example, the commonly used drug Trihexyphenidyl is mainly backed by clinical experience rather than research evidence. The same goes for Gabapentin, another drug that is used in diverse scenarios and sometimes in combination with trihexyphenidyl.

The question is, what is the most effective medication for dystonia?

This paper highlights recent advancements in pharmacotherapy research and it looks like we are one step in the right direction.

A new study has shown definite evidence of a significant reduction in dystonia and improvements in children with dyskinetic cerebral palsy when using Trihexyphenidyl.

Surprisingly, researchers confirmed that a combination of gabapentin with trihexyphenidyl had no added benefit to children. Such results were possible through a randomized controlled trial, which is the gold-standard in medical research.

The paper also emphasizes the importance of conducting quality research with a large sample size, early diagnosis of dystonia and choreoathetosis in children, and physical rehabilitation. The study calls for more research to assess the various medication options in children. Although it is unclear how the results of this study will impact currently recommended treatment regimens for dystonia, it appears to be a valuable piece of research that gives more clarity to those making an informed treatment choice.

Parent resources

Looking to connect with other families who understand what you're going through? 

Join the CP Support Canada Facebook Parent Group

CP Smile Project

The CP Smile Project is a community project that helps ensure children with cerebral palsy have access to recreational opportunities that allow them to engage in play and community involvement. We give monthly bursaries to families to help them provide the support needed for their child to engage in play and have fun.