Stroke survivors given greater access to Botox treatment

August 30, 2019
Stroke Foundation has welcomed listing of Botulinum toxin A (Botox) on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) for lower limb spasticity, saying it has the potential to benefit stroke survivors.  

The listing comes as Stroke Foundation National Stroke Week begins (September 2 - 8). The PBS listing applies to adults who have had an acute neurological event, including a stroke, traumatic brain injury or spinal cord injury.  

Stroke Foundation Clinical Council Member Professor Susan Hillier said Botox can help people with stroke move more easily or with less pain and discomfort.

“When a stroke occurs, control signals from the brain to muscles can be damaged. As a result, the muscles may become too active, making them feel stiff and tight. This is called spasticity,” Professor Hillier said. 

“Around 30 percent of stroke survivors will experience some form of muscle spasticity and it can get worse, the less they move.”

As part of a rehabilitation program, Botox can be injected into muscles that are too active. These injections are effective for approximately three months, and it is recommended usage should always be combined with physiotherapy or occupational therapy. 

Botox for upper limb (arms, wrists, hands) spasticity is already on the PBS, but the latest development will provide help, where appropriate, to people with spasticity in leg muscles, including a stiff knee or pointed foot. These issues can make it difficult to walk and affect balance.  

Professor Hillier added Botox was a targeted treatment, which provides a window of opportunity for stroke survivors to work with their therapists to strengthen muscles and improve movement and function.

“Botox is a tool that can certainly assist with rehabilitation goals. However, it’s important to note, it is not a single magic pill. More research is needed into the impact of Botox on quality of life.”

Botulinum toxin A (Botox) is a recommended treatment for the management of spasticity in the Stroke Foundation Clinical Guidelines for Stroke Management