Anti-Seizure Medications for Cerebral Palsy

Doctors usually recommend the most organic-based therapy for all types of illnesses. Unfortunately, sometimes disabilities such as cerebral palsy have so many special circumstances that a fully organic therapy plan isn’t logical –or comfortable for the child. Medications may need to be relied on to accompany therapy and to help the child work through the disorder as comfortably as possible. Seizures, in particular, are not only scary to parents, but if not controlled, can lead to severe accidents.

Phenobarbital

Perhaps one of the most widely recognized medications used for children with cerebral palsy, phenobarbital therapy is in a class of medications called phenobarbital anticonvulsants and hypnotics, and works by slowing down the activity in the brain. It is primarily used to treat seizures for children with cerebral palsy and epilepsy, and can also be used as a sleep aid.

Side effects:

 According to research, phenobarbital is can be habit-forming, and those who use it can build up a tolerance that makes long-term use ineffective. In addition, side effects can include agitation, allergic reactions, anemia, abnormal thinking, anxiety, confusion, constipation, delirium, low blood pressure, hyperactivity in children, or nightmares.

You might want to try if:

Considering the side effects, this might be a short-term option for children who struggle with a sleeping disorder that doesn’t involve nightmares. Don’t try it if your child has an anxiety disorder.

Dilantin

Dilantin –also known as Phenytoin- is a drug in the family of anticonvulsants that work on decreasing abnormal activity in the brain. This particular drug is intended to treat children with cerebral palsy or epilepsy, decreasing the electrical activity that eventually leads to seizures. While Dilantin cannot stop all seizures, it can stop most without being habit-forming.

Side effects:

Some side effects of Dilantin include trouble sleeping, uncontrollable eye movements, abnormal body movements, loss of coordination, confusion, slowed thinking, slurred speech, dizziness, and swollen glands. Several of these are quite normal considering the drug works on changing the way your child’s brain reacts.

You might want to try if:

If you are concerned about trying a substance that is addictive, this may be an option as there are no known associated habit-forming effects. Don’t try it if your child already has trouble speaking or if he or she has trouble sleeping, as both of these conditions may get worse.

Klonopin

Klonopin is the U.S. name for the drug Clonazepam, and is in the class of medications referred to as benzodiazepines. It works by slowing or decreasing abnormal electricity in the brain. It is primarily used to treat seizures for children with cerebral palsy that also have epilepsy, as it is used to prevent seizures. Additionally, it serves the purpose of a muscle relaxant, a drug used to treat anxiety, and a sleep aid.

Side Effects:

Klonopin is another highly-addictive drug which your child may build up a tolerance to over time, making it both ineffective and difficult. Because of the habit-forming nature, withdrawals are part of the side effects, and the other primary side effect is drowsiness.

You might want to try if:

If your child doesn’t respond to any other medical treatment, this may be a short-term option to try. Due to the potency of the drug, your child may be extra drowsy, so this may be a good fit for a child who has trouble sleeping. This also may be a great short-term solution for parents who are concerned about drugs with other side effects.

Tegretol

Also known as the drugs Carbamazepine, Cabratrol, and Epito, Tegretol is in the medical family of anticonvulsants which works to eliminate the level of abnormal electrical activity in the brain. Tegretol is often used to treat individuals with bipolar disorder, and also to help patients with epilepsy. Because of effectiveness with these other disorders, doctors know that Tegretol is intended to help to treat the seizures related with cerebral palsy (though it doesn’t treat cerebral palsy itself).

Side Effects:

Some of the Tegretol side effects include potential serious life-threatening allergic reactions called Stevens-Johnson Syndrome (SJS) or toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN). These risk are associated with patients who are of Asian decent or with certain genetic predispositions so your doctor may want to perform a genetic test first.

You might want to try if:

Tegretol is a non-habit forming anticonvulsant, so this is great news for parents that are worried about the addictiveness of other drugs. This is definitely not a good option for children that are of Asian descent or of the other genetic predispositions, but otherwise is a pretty safe, effective drug.

Depakene

Depakene is the brand name for valpronic acid, which is used to control seizures, generally of epileptic patients. Because it works on generating neuotransmitters, it is also successful with treating mania and migraine headaches.

Side Effects:

Depakene should never be given to children under the age of 2 based on potential damage to the liver. Other side effect include danger to individuals with an intellectual disability and individuals who are already taking anti-seizure medication. It should also only be eaten with food.

You might want to try if:

If your child doesn’t have an intellectual disability, isn’t on other medications, and is over the age of 2, you may consider this an alternative to other habit-forming drugs.

Keep in mind that the aformenetioned list of medications is only to be used as a general guideline. Never give your child any medication without prior approval and recommendations from a qualified physician.