Treatments for Movement Disorders

Treatments and Care for Movement Disorders in Children

Treatments for movement disorders are varied, since the disorders themselves are distinct from one another and severity can vary. For many movement abnormalities, children may only require observation, as their bodies will fix the problem as they develop. When more is clearly needed, we tailor treatment to each child’s needs:

  • Oral medications can relax muscles and ease stiffness, tremors and spasms.
  • Injections of botulinum toxin (Botox) into affected muscles can be helpful for dystonia that affects a single body part, and sometimes for tic disorders and myoclonus.
  • An implanted baclofen pump, which delivers muscle-relaxing medication directly into the fluid around the spinal cord, can be helpful for dystonia mixed with spasticity that does not get better with oral medications.
  • Deep brain stimulation is an emerging treatment for primary dystonia that does not respond to medications. An implanted neurostimulator sends mild electrical pulses to the parts of the brain that are causing the abnormal movements. Deep brain stimulation is most effective when it is started early.

Although there is no “magic bullet” or cure for most movement disorders, children often get symptom relief with these treatments. Their care also includes:

  • physical therapy to strengthen and/or stretch the affected limbs and muscles to limit the impact of the symptoms
  • occupational therapy to help children adapt their skills to overcome any limitations caused by abnormal movements
  • support to help the family and child cope with ongoing symptoms of movement disorders
  • neuropsychiatric testing, offered when the movement disorder is accompanied by cognitive or behavioral problems