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Botox™ Injections Safely And Effectively Treat Spasticity In Stroke Patients

PITTSBURGH, August 6, 2002 — Researchers have found that intramuscular injections of botulinum toxin type A (BOTOX-A™), commonly known as botox, effectively improve disability of the wrist and fingers after a stroke, according to an article published in the Aug. 8 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine.

The study assessed the effects of singular BTX-A injection sessions on measures of self-care, limb posture, pain and muscle tone. Sixty-two percent of the patients receiving the BTX-A injections reported improvement in their symptoms, with no serious adverse effects. The benefits lasted for at least 12 weeks.

"Seventy percent of patients survive stroke, or in other words, six out of 1,000 people in the United States are stroke survivors," said Ross Zafonte, D.O., professor and chair of the department of physical medicine and rehabilitation, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, who participated in the trial during his tenure at the Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan.

"Many of these patients experience spasticity of the upper limbs, which limits their ability to participate in many activities of day-to-day life like dressing and washing. This study proves that botox injections can dramatically improve these patients' quality of life."

Spasticity - tight or stiff muscles that may be subject to spasms - can affect the arms and/or legs with stiffness, pain, long-term muscle shortening, fibrosis and loss of muscle tone. Spasticity is caused by injury to the brain, as in stroke, causing the brain to lose control of muscle function.

"This study confirms the efficacy of a treatment that doctors across the country have been offering to their patients at centers like the UPMC Spasticity Center for some time now," said Michael C. Munin, M.D., director of the UPMC Spasticity Treatment and Evaluation Center. "Most importantly, the study proves not only that the treatment works by reducing muscle tone, but it also shows the positive rehabilitative effects - and that is what matters most to our patients."

The UPMC Spasticity Evaluation and Treatment Center offers BOTOX injections and other treatments for patients with spasticity due to stroke, brain injury, spinal cord injury , neuro-degenerative disease or multiple sclerosis.

"More than 500,000 Americans suffer from spasticity, for a variety of reasons, including stroke. We can treat them through a variety of therapies from physical therapy and exercise to medication and surgery. There is no one specific treatment for spasticity, but through careful evaluation, we are able to determine what therapy is right for each patient and hopefully improve their quality of life," said Dr. Munin, who also is an associate professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

For more information on the treatment options, call 412-692-4400, or visit the UPMC website at http://spasticity.upmc.com.

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