Does Medical Cannabis Help Cerebral Palsy Patients Find Relief?

Cerebral palsy is a neurological condition which refers to a group of symptoms including poor motor and muscle control, weakness, developmental problems, spasticity and sometimes paralysis.

Researchers believe there are many causes and factors that can contribute to cerebral palsy in new-borns or infants. When a cause is known, it can include reduced blood circulation to the brain during pregnancy, oxygen deprivation, infections affecting the brain or damage due to other illnesses, or brain injury that takes place during delivery.

There are four general categories of cerebral palsy, which have some overlaps but are different from one another due to the symptoms that tend to occur.

  • Spastic cerebral palsy — This is the most common type, which causes convulsions and abnormal reflexes in new-borns/infants. Some only experience symptoms that affect their arms, called diplegia, but have near-normal mental capabilities and intelligence.
  • Athetoid cerebral palsy — This type is characterized by slow, uncontrolled writhing movements. Symptoms usually cause abnormal control of the hands, feet, legs and arms. Sometimes the tongue and other muscles of the face are also impaired. This can cause trouble eating, difficulty speaking, drooling or grimacing (scowling or frowning).
  • Ataxic cerebral palsy — A rarer type of cerebral palsy, characterized by trouble with balance, coordination, walking and depth-perception.
  • Mixed form cerebral palsy — When a child has symptoms of one or more of the above types of cerebral palsy. The most common mixed form of cerebral palsy is spastic combined with athetoid.
Cerebral Palsy and Medical Cannabis

Cerebral palsy remains an incurable disorder. Research on medical cannabis and cerebral palsy is still limited, but findings from previous studies suggest that it offers a host of benefits, including pain control, reduction of spastic movements, seizures reduction, and more. In 2011, a study with 83 cerebral palsy participations used 23 different types of medications for pain, including medical cannabis. The legs, lower back, and hips, were reported as being the most common areas of pain among the participants. According to the study, ‘the treatment that was rated as providing the most relief, was marijuana’.

Although more data is needed, the few studies conducted on medical cannabis and spastic quadriplegia symptoms indicate that it offers numerous therapeutic benefits. For example, a study published by NIH in 2007 states that clinical experience and animal studies showed that the active constituents in marijuana helped to control partial seizures, which are usual in people with spastic quadriplegia.

Another study published in 2014 showed cannabis to be effective in reducing painful muscle spasms. Although the study focused on people who experienced muscle spasms associated with multiple sclerosis, spasms are one of the most common symptoms of people with cerebral palsy.

Conclusion

Though high-quality clinical trials of cannabis medicines are few, the time has come that doctors and medical researchers looked into cannabinoid treatments for Cerebral Palsy.

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