Posted on Friday 22 March 2013
Action Medical Research for Children has awarded funding to the Evelina Children’s Hospital to carry out research to improve the treatment of dystonia.
Together with King’s College London, Dr Jean-Pierre Lin – who leads the Complex Motor Disorder Service at Evelina Children’s Hospital – will be working towards improving existing treatments for the debilitating condition.
Dystonia is a serious movement disorder where muscle spasms cause repetitive and uncontrollable twisting postures. The commonest cause of dystonia in children is cerebral palsy, but there are many other causes, including rare genetic disorders and strokes. Dystonia can affect many normal daily activities such as walking, talking, sitting, eating and sleeping, and severely impairs the quality of life of many children.
After a few years the body and limbs may become deformed and cause constant pain. Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) can dramatically improve the life of a child with dystonia. Electrodes are implanted deep into specific parts of the brain which are then stimulated with tiny electric currents. This can reduce involuntary movements in children with cerebral palsy and other severe forms of dystonia.
The research aims to improve understanding of how best to position the DBS electrodes in the child’s brain. They also hope to establish which children will respond best to DBS surgery using recently developed brain-imaging techniques that reveal how different parts of the brain connect together.