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Botox balm for spasticity

Botox may be best known for being used by celebrities for flawless skin, but its medical benefits far precede it. However, of late, the drug’s function as a muscle relaxant to treat conditions such as spasticity has taken off in Calcutta.

A doctor from the state-controlled Bangur Institute of Neurology, on Tuesday, announced progress in popularising the use of the drug to address adult spasticity over the past two years in Calcutta, with the hospital treating an increasing number of patients from the eastern states and Bangladesh. The drug, derived from the bacterium clostridium botulinum, has been used on around 30 patients with spasticity. “We have been using the injections effectively on stroke victims. It reduces muscle spasms, and also pain. We have seen that at times, the limbs become so stiff, physiotherapy is not possible. After administering botox, flexibility is increased, allowing greater limb movement,” explains neurologist S.K. Das.

The treatment has been used in children as well, and found to be effective in treating cerebral palsy. Those suffering from traumatic brain injury, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury and neuro-degenerative diseases have been found to benefit from its usage. Though botox does not offer a permanent solution, the effects last for above four months. Each 100-unit vial of the imported drug costs around Rs 8,000, which limits its application considerably. Patients have had an average of two treatments each so far.

Celebrities like Sir Cliff Richard, Madonna, Kylie Minogue and Liz Hurley are, apparently, users of the medicine for its cosmetic benefits, though some doctors have warned of potentially harmful side-effects.

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