Medications are prescribed to reduce the symptoms associated with a type of cerebral palsy (CP) such as spastic cerebral palsy, or as a treatment for a co-condition (medical conditions that may be seen along with the primary diagnosis). When discussing medication options with your medical team consider the side effects, benefits, and alternatives of each option presented. In some cases, other treatments or interventions may be helpful for addressing symptoms and include therapies, orthotics or equipment, such as adaptive seating, or surgical procedures. Ask your medical team which options they believe are best suited to meet your goals and what research is available for you to review.

Spastic CP Medications

Medications prescribed for treating spastic cerebral palsy are intended to help reduce the muscle tightness, improve range of motion and sometime to try and reduce or eliminate pain. Some examples of medications commonly prescribed to address the spasticity symptoms include:

  • Oral Baclofen- Can also be delivered via a pump that is surgically implanted; may increase seizures in people with epilepsy
  • Diazepam (Valium)
  • Tizanidine (Zanaflex)
  • Dantrolene (Dantrium)
  • Gabapentin (Neurontin)-currently remains untested in cerebral palsy but has been used to treat spasticity in other populations

Dyskinetic CP Medications (dystonia, chorea and athetosis)

Dystonia Medications

Dyskinetic cerebral palsy medications for dystonia are prescribed to help reduce pain and the person’s spontaneous and unintended muscle movements. Some examples of medications prescribed to reduced the symptoms of dyskinetic CP include:

  • Oral Baclofen- Can also be delivered via a pump that is surgically implanted; may increase seizures in people with epilepsy
  • Trihexyphenidyl (Artane)
  • L-dopa or carbidopa-levodopa (Sinemet)
  • Clonazepam (Klonopin)
  • Tetrabenazine (Xenazine)-Some emerging concerns regarding depression as a side effect
  • Zolpidem (Ambien)

Chorea Medications

  • Tetrabenazine (Xenazine)-Some emerging concerns regarding depression as a side effect

Athetosis Medications

There are currently no medications widely used for addressing the symptoms of athetosis. Please join our MyCP community registry and participate in our forum to share your experiences and concerns regarding treatment options. 

Ataxic CP Medications

At this time there are no medications widely used for addressing the symptoms of ataxia. Current treatments focus on addressing low tone through supportive devices and vests (orthoses) such as a SPIO suit

Please join our MyCP community registry and participate in our forum to share your experiences and concerns regarding treatment options. 

 

For more information, download our free cerebral palsy tool kit.