Spasticity and Movement Disorders Clinic

Focused on a multidisciplinary approach for treating spasticity disorders in babies, children and adolescents.

The program strives to treat and prevent mechanically unbalanced joints in children with spasticity to improve functional performance and foster a more independent lifestyle.

girl in neck brace and special wheelchair white framing element
girl in neck brace and special wheelchair white framing element

About the Spasticity and Movement Disorders Clinic

Part of the Nicklaus Children’s Hospital Brain Institute, the Spasticity and Movement Disorders Clinic brings together a multidisciplinary team that works collaboratively to treat children with movement conditions and disorders, including cerebral palsy. The clinic is the only program of its kind in Florida and is an international leader in treatment strategy, safety and outcomes.

The Importance of a Team Approach to Care

During clinic visits, patients are seen by specialists in neurology, neurosurgery, orthopedics, psychiatry and physical/occupational therapy. Specialists meet after each clinic and discuss every case individually. The clinical coordinator reaches out to the family to review treatment recommendations and schedule specific interventions.

The goal is to maximize movement, comfort and quality of life for affected children and their families.

Treatments and Procedures

The Spasticity and Movement Disorders Clinic offers a variety of treatments options to manage spasticity. Treatments options are individualized to each patient depending on the cause of the condition, age, general health and nutritional status as well as goals of treatment.

Conditions We Treat

  • Spasticity: stiffness of muscles or resistance to stretching that interferes with normal movement.
  • Dystonia: abnormal body movements or postures such as twisting that interfere with normal movement and coordination.

These conditions occur as a result of any damage within the central nervous system that impairs the coordination of muscle activity. It is most commonly related to:

Use of iMRI

Nicklaus Children’s Hospital is the first pediatric facility in Florida to acquire intraoperative magnetic resonance imaging (iMRI) This leading-edge equipment, brings MRI technology – recognized as the “gold standard” in differentiating between healthy and abnormal brain tissue – directly into the surgical suite to enhance safety and ensure complete removal of tumors and preservation of healthy tissue.

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Treatment Options for Spasticity

A common characteristic of various neurological disorders is spasticity, which is the excessive tightness or tension of certain muscle groups. It interferes with smooth, coordinated motions, and results in limited movement patterns and impaired motor skills. Selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR) and the Baclofen pump are two treatments for spasticity that may help reduce muscle tension. The program has more than two decades of experience in the use of SDR for treatment of spasticity.

SDR is a spasticity treatment that reduces spasticity in the lower extremities. Through this procedure, certain hyperactive sensory rootlets coming from the muscles are cut. Interrupting these abnormal pathways from the muscle reduces abnormal sensory input. Selective dorsal rhizotomy strives to restore balance between the sensory information and the motor responses.

An SDR team evaluates children being considered for surgical treatment, via a selective dorsal rhizotomy or the Baclofen (a drug that reduces spasticity) pump. The Baclofen pump is surgically implanted under the abdominal skin with a catheter inserted into the spinal canal and requires regular maintenance.

Children able to walk alone or with braces, walker, or crutches may be videotaped. Each team member will examine the child. The group will then meet to discuss which procedure will be in the child's best interest. The surgeon will discuss with the family the risks and the potential benefits and if surgery is scheduled, the clinical nurse specialist will assist in obtaining equipment and coordinating therapies.

While neither of these spasticity treatments - selective dorsal rhizotomy or the Baclofen pump - will eliminate the underlying neurological problem (e.g. Cerebral palsy), reducing the spasticity may allow better muscle control and function. Physical and occupational therapy will also be essential before and after surgery.

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Wheelchair/Seating and Mobility Clinic

The Wheelchair and DME (Durable Medical Equipment) Clinic held once a week, serves children with a variety of musculoskeletal conditions ranging from muscular dystrophy, spina bifida and cerebral palsy. Patients can be evaluated and fitted for wheelchairs, specialized walkers, chairs and bath equipment. There is a multi-specialty group of providers including a physical therapist, orthotist and wheel chair vendors who evaluate the each patient’s abilities and needs.

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Success Stories

Asnay Machado is an ambitious Westland Senior High School student with dreams of becoming a lawyer one day. Asnay, who was born with cerebral palsy, recently enjoyed a boost in confidence thanks to a surgery at Nicklaus Children’s that has enabled him to stand up straight for the first time.
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Awards & Associations