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Modafinil for Cerebral Palsy

Modafinil used as probable treatment for Cerebral Palsy.

Modafinil is a drug that is commonly used to treat narcolepsy and various sleep disorders in the United States.  What it does is to promote wakefulness during the day as it is a stimulant.  However modafinil has also been tested for a number of different uses, and this includes Cerebral Palsy.

The common problems that parents have when caring for their children with cerebral palsy is diverse.  Problems can range from tight spastic muscles, or more often the stigma that is associated with the condition.

 

A Pleasant Accident

The discovery of modafinil’s use as treatment for cerebral palsy was largely by accident.  This was because it was actually being used for a cerebral palsy patient who also had attention deficit disorder.  The cerebral palsy patient was already scheduled for surgery, but very surprisingly the surgery did not have to push through as the patient’s muscle spasticity had greatly improved.

 

Pilot Study

This thereafter led to a pilot study conducted on 10 pediatric patients check if the same results can be reproduced in the prior case just mentioned.  The hypothesis was that the effect of modafinil on brainstems was the cause of the reduction of the spasticity.

Improved Gait

Thus the patients were given 50 mg and 100 mg of modafinil once a day.  The baselines that were used were clinical exams, spasticity assessments by a licensed physical therapist with the use of Ashworth Scale scores and videotapes of the movements of the patients.  All these were completed in about a month.  Of the 10 patients, 9 of them completed the treatment.  The most significant improvement was that 6 of the 9 patients who took modafinil improved their speed of gait, which is an encouraging result.

No more drooling

Another positive effect of modafinil on cerebral palsy is the fact that it seems to have improved the effect on some drooling patients. This happened after starting modafinil for spasticity and without other changes in the patients’ treatment programs. The decrease in drooling was remarkable. Both patients had repetitive problems with drooling. One of the patients has gone from wearing a bib or bandanna, which was constantly wet from drooling to being essentially dry. After starting modafinil, both patients stopped drooling. The parents initially observed decreased drooling at home. After further appointments with the doctor and examinations and evaluations at physical therapy were conducted, all these observations were confirmed.   Furthermore, better coordination and speech have been noted in each patient.   These results show that modafinil improves drooling in at least some patients with spastic cerebral palsy. The decreased drooling is due to improvements noted in swallowing.

Further Studies

Considering that the results of modafinil use for cerebral palsy have been fairly successful, this should be a sign that modafinil for cerebral palsy should undergo further testing to ensure that there are no adverse side effects, or that they are minimal, and that modafinil is effective in treating cerebral palsy patients.  It should not be long before modafinil is consistently prescribed in treating these cerebral palsy patients.

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