A form of botulinum toxin improved active arm movement for stroke and brain trauma patients in a clinical trial that involved Christina Marciniak, MD, attending physician at AbilityLab.
The large-scale, multi-national, placebo-controlled study assessed injections of a bobotulinumtoxin A, a type of botulinum toxin that is marketed as Dysport and Botox. Patients who suffered from a stroke or brain injury and developed upper arm spasticity – a severe tightness and stiffness in the muscles – received a single set of toxin or placebo injections in the arm. The results were published in Lancet Neurology.
Botulinum toxin has been used to treat abnormal muscle activity for decades, but applications in the limbs are an increasing focus of research. Most previous studies looking at the effects of toxin injections in the arm have measured reduced muscle tightness as their primary endpoint, but the recent trial also evaluated increases in movement that make a patient’s daily activities easier.
“The goal of treatment with the toxins in overactive muscles following injury to the brain is not to just reduce the tightness, but to help the patient or caregiver in their activities that are restricted by the tightness,” said Dr. Marciniak.
After receiving injections, some subjects showed improvement for as long as five months.
“This is the first large-scale study demonstrating an improvement in active movement at the elbow, wrist or fingers, rather than just demonstrating that there is relaxation of the muscles around the joint,” Dr. Marciniak said.