Understanding the Medical Purposes of Botox for Birth Injuries
Botulinum Toxin, or Botox, is best known for fighting wrinkles. Botox injections paralyze facial muscles to prevent wrinkling or smooth wrinkles. However, most people probably are unaware that Botox treats a variety of conditions, such as neck spasms, lazy eye, incontinence, migraines, and sweating, among other ailments. Even more surprising is its medicinal benefits for children with birth injuries, such as brachial plexus damage, as well as its use in treatment of cerebral palsy symptoms.
How Botox Works
Botulinum toxin is a protein that toxic bacteria (Clostridium botulinum) produce, the same bacteria responsible for botulism from spoiled foods. The protein from the bacteria causes paralysis when it prevents chemical messengers from sending messages from nerve endings. The effect is muscle relaxation and temporary alleviation of muscle spasms or tension.
What Happens During Botox Administration
The drug’s administration is typically an in-office procedure. A medical professional injects the skin or muscle with a small amount of Botox to paralyze or weaken the muscles at the injection site. The number of injections depends on the patient’s needs and body areas to cover. More injections may be necessary for conditions affecting the muscles in the legs as opposed to smaller areas on the face or shoulder. The healthcare professional may first numb the injection site or sites first, especially if more than one injection is necessary and the patient is a young child.
Usefulness of Botox for Alleviating Cerebral Palsy Symptoms
Some doctors use Botox to treat cerebral palsy (CP) symptoms, such as muscle rigidity and spasms, especially in the legs. CP sufferers may have difficulty walking or endure muscle pain. After treatment, children with CP improve their range of motion and walking ability. They also suffer less spasticity and pain, which may allow more time for a child to grow before surgical repair is necessary for pain relief and mobility. Children under four are prime candidates for the treatment as they are still growing, and their muscles are more pliable. Since the effects of the treatment are temporary, physicians can assess the impact of treatment and possibly avoid more invasive corrective treatments.
Helpfulness of Botox for Brachial Plexus Issues
Botox can also help brachial plexus injuries. The brachial plexus is a network of nerves connecting the spinal cord to the shoulder, arm, and fingers. These nerves can suffer damage during childbirth when the baby’s head turns and strains under the pressures of birth or from birth assistance tools that stretch the arm and shoulders, among other causes. Botox can help create balanced joints and reduce the differential between weak, injured muscles, and uninjured ones, allowing the weaker muscles to strengthen and, thus, increasing the benefits of physical therapy.
Risks Associated with Botox for Treatment of Birth Injuries
Despite beneficial therapeutic results for children with birth injuries and CP, Botox is not without its potential side effects and risks. Even though the drug is not FDA-approved for use in treating children with CP, for example, physicians weigh the benefits against the risks, including the drug’s potential to spread to other body areas than the targeted ones. In addition, patients may experience vision problems, swallowing difficulties, headaches, and pain or infection at the injection site. Rarely the toxin spreads to other parts of the body, causing botulism symptoms, which can be lethal. As such, Botox comes with severe warnings for its packaging.
Although some patients benefit from Botox treatment, not all physicians agree that the benefits are worth the risks for all children with birth injuries or CP. Some children see significant improvement in muscle movement and tone, while others do not after the drug wears off several weeks later. Studies show mixed results on the effectiveness of its use in children with these conditions.
Doctors Have Responsibilities when Recommending and Administering Botox to Children
Since the treatment is somewhat controversial, a physician recommending Botox treatment must confer with the appropriate specialists to assess the totality of a child’s condition and circumstances, including their range of motion, stiffness, spasticity, and other factors influencing the decision to use Botox. Equally important, a physician must inform the patient’s parents of the benefits and risks of such treatment and any alternatives before they consent to the procedure, which could continue for months or years.
Without a fully informed assessment of a child’s condition and consent by the parents, a physician may be guilty of negligence when a child suffers injuries from the treatment or dies. But even when a full assessment and informed consent occurs, a medical professional may still be negligent in administering or following up after treatment. When negligent practices harm a child, their condition worsens, and suffering increases.
For example, a child with painful muscle stiffness may get temporary relief from Botox injections but then develop a life-threatening infection that leaves them weakened, setting any progress they made in physical and occupational therapy back months, years, or lifelong. A victim of medical malpractice may need years of expensive treatment and therapies to improve their symptoms and their life overall. When your child’s physician did not diligently research or apply treatment options for your child’s CP or brachial plexus symptoms, they may be held legally responsible for your child’s injuries and your damages.
If Your Child’s Birth Injury may Benefit from Botox Treatment, Know Your Rights
Healthcare professionals must follow practices that other healthcare professionals with similar education, experience, and specialty follow. Otherwise, they may be liable for the damages their negligence creates. As the parent of a child with a birth injury that may benefit from botox treatment, you do not have to suffer financially for the inexcusable mistakes that were made during your child’s birth either. Our skilled team of New Jersey birth injury lawyers can assess whether a successful lawsuit can cover your past and future medical and other expenses for your child’s care, including therapists, medical devices, special education services, medications, and adaptive living devices, such as wheelchairs, communication equipment, and other machinery necessary for daily living and comfort.
Talk to a New Jersey Attorney about Covering the Costs of Your Child’s Medical Needs
With the help of our birth injury attorneys, you and your family may be able to receive fair compensation for your child’s unnecessary childbirth injuries, including pain and suffering. It is important to speak to a legal professional as soon as possible to avoid missing legal filing deadlines for lawsuits in New Jersey, as the time clock may be ticking on your child’s case. Before filing a lawsuit, our legal team must research your case and verify that medical malpractice exists and your child’s case meets the necessary criteria. Contact us today at (866)-708-8617 for a free and confidential consultation.