Before Hollywood fell in love with Botulinum Toxin Type A (BoNTA) for its ability to reduce frown lines, the drug was approved by the FDA for the treatment of crossed eyes, uncontrollable eye blinking, and head and neck pain due to cervical dystonia. At the American Academy of Neurology meeting in May 2007, the results of a 12-month trial of BoNTA for post-stroke spasticity were presented.
In this study, treatment with BoNTA significantly reduced spasticity in the wrist, fingers, and elbow and improved patients' mobility and ability to perform activities such as bathing and dressing, says Elie Elovic, M.D., director of traumatic brain injury research at Kessler Medical Rehabilitation Research and Education Corporation in West Orange, New Jersey and the study's lead investigator.
Spasticity occurs when muscles become overactive, making them tight, sometimes painful, and difficult to relax. Anywhere from 19 percent to 38 percent of stroke patients develop spasticity, which can interfere with activities of daily living such as washing and dressing.