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Dev Med Child Neurol. 2011 Oct;53(10):885-95. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-8749.2011.03992.x. Epub 2011 Jun 3.

Use of intrathecal baclofen therapy in ambulant children and adolescents with spasticity and dystonia of cerebral origin: a systematic review.

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Kids Rehab, The Children's Hospital at Westmead, Westmead, NSW, Australia.

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  • Dev Med Child Neurol. 2011 Nov;53(11):1065.



Studies on the use of intrathecal baclofen (ITB) for ambulant adults with spasticity and/or dystonia of cerebral origin are scarce, and are even more limited for children and adolescents. This systematic review investigates the use of ITB to improve walking, transfer ability, and gross motor activities in ambulant children and adolescents with spasticity and/or dystonia of cerebral origin.


Electronic databases (MEDLINE, CINAHL, PsycINFO, EMBASE, full Cochrane Library, and PEDro) were searched from the earliest date available until March 2011 using combined subject headings and free text if supported by the databases. Studies were included if they had examined individuals who: (1) received ITB therapy by any method (bolus injection, an external delivery system, or an implanted pump); (2) had spasticity and/or dystonia of cerebral origin; (3) were able to ambulate with or without a walking device, i.e. individuals with cerebral palsy (CP) who were in levels I to III of the Gross Motor Function Classification System or individuals with similar functional mobility if they did not have CP; and (4) were aged 18 years or under. Publications in English in peer-reviewed journals reporting any type of research design, except reviews and expert opinions, were included. Studies were excluded if participants had spasticity and/or dystonia of spinal origin and if baclofen was administered only orally. Studies that compared ITB with other interventions such as botulinum toxin were also excluded.


Two independent reviewers scored 16 studies against the guidelines for developing systematic reviews from the American Academy of Cerebral Palsy and Developmental Medicine (AACPDM).


Fifteen studies were of levels IV or V evidence and only one of level II according to the evidence levels of the AACPDM guidelines, but all were of low quality. No study was found on the use of ITB in ambulant children or adolescents with dystonia of cerebral origin. Not all studies used objective outcome measures to assess the ambulation, transfer ability, and gross motor activities of the participants. A proportion of participants showed improvement in all these areas but adverse events were common. A proportion of participants compromised their ambulatory and transfer abilities after ITB. There was no evidence to support the clinical use of ITB in ambulant individuals with hypertonicity without further rigorous longitudinal studies.

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