Anderson’s Spasticity Program has Grown by Leaps and Bounds

May. 13, 2011

Dr. Richard Anderson Director, Spasticity Center

In 2005, Dr. Richard Anderson from the Pediatric Neurosurgery Center started the Spasticity Center here at Columbia.  The program has grown by leaps and bounds and that is exactly what he aimed for–quite literally.

According to Dr. Anderson, when the Spasticity Center opened six years ago, they had just four patients. That number has steadily grown over the years and they now regularly follow nearly 300 patients.

The Spasticity Center at NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital is a multidisciplinary program that includes pediatric specialists in neurosurgery, neurology, orthopedic surgery, physical medicine and rehab (physiatry), physical and occupational therapy, nursing, social work, and orthotics.  Spasticity results from damage to the motor pathways of the brain or spinal cord. It is characterized by stiff muscles and exaggerated reflexes that can interfere with gait, movement, or speech.– New York Presbyterian Spasticity Center

Spasticity has the effect of almost trapping a child in their own body. Muscles become so tightly held that normal tasks like walking and running can become nearly impossible.  When spasticity is treated effectively the result is more relaxed muscles and a child who can run and play like never before.

The multidisciplinary team allows a myriad of treatment strategies to be developed that are tailored for every patient. These include physical and occupational therapies, oral medications, intramuscular injections (botox, phenol, and alcohol), orthopedic surgeries, and neurological surgeries (rhizotomy and intrathecal baclofen pump).  One of the most effective ways spasticity can be reduced permanently is with a highly specialized surgery called a minimally invasive selective dorsal rhizotomy.

Normally an all-day and highly invasive surgery with multiple levels of bone removal, Dr. Anderson and his team are able to perform the surgery in much less time using minimally invasive techniques and removal of only one level of bone through a 1.5 inch incision.

This means a quicker, less painful recovery, and children who can sooner get down to the important business of leaping and bounding.

Congratulations Dr. Anderson and the team at the Spasticity Center on your tremendous success!

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