A preliminary study reported in Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology found that low doses of pamidronate increase bone density in children with spastic cerebral palsy (CP). All of the children in the study had spastic quadriplegia, a severe form of cerebral palsy characterized by muscle stiffness in all four limbs and the mouth and tongue. These cerebral palsy victims often have decreased mobility and cognitive deficiencies. The hope is that this new drug improves bone density, ameliorating a weakness in many cerebral palsy victims who, because of their decreased mobility, are at higher risk for fractures.
The University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha studied 23 children with severe cerebral palsy and were unable to walk. At the beginning of the study, the patients’ bone mineral density was below the normal level for children their age. After a year, the Nebraska researchers found significant increases in the bone mineral density. Nine children had at least one fracture and up to five fractures prior to the study. Only one fracture occurred during the 12-month treatment period and the average annual fracture rate fell from 0.98 to 0.004 per year.
What a blessing it would be if science could make more dramatic advances for cerebral palsy victims. This drug is not a panacea for people who suffer from cerebral palsy. But progress is progress. Let’s hope it keeps coming.