One out of every 2,000 children born each year has cerebral palsy. Many of these children suffer from spasticity or increased muscle tone, making it difficult for them to move and be moved. While there are different types of cerebral palsy, only children with spastic cerebral palsy (diplegia or quadriplegia) can benefit from selective dorsal rhizotomy.
Selective dorsal rhizotomy, a neurosurgical procedure developed to reduce the abnormally increased muscle tone, reduces the child's spasticity without changing sensation or strength.
To benefit, one of the child’s main problems must be increased spasticity, as the surgery only reduces spasticity and does not cure cerebral palsy.
There are basically two groups of children who benefit from selective dorsal rhizotomy:
- Children who can, or have the potential, to walk, but their spasticity interferes with fluid, free movement.
- Children with more severe cerebral palsy may benefit from improved ease of movement, positioning and nursing care.
Patient selection at the Spasticity Clinic at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta weighs the potential risks against the benefits, including:
- Degree of underlying strength
- Intellectual capacity of the child
- Motivation of the child and family
Ideal surgical candidates are usually children who were born prematurely with a low birth weight. Surgery is not generally recommended for children who had diagnoses of meningitis, congenital infection, congenital hydrocephalus, head trauma or hereditary disorders.
At our Spasticity Clinic, patients are seen by team members from the following pediatric specialties: neurosurgery, physiatry, orthopaedics, orthotics, nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy and social work.