Pediatric Movement Disorders Program

The Pediatric Movement Disorders Program at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles provides diagnosis and treatment for children with neurological conditions that impact their body movements. Our hospital offers access to some of the only neurologists in the nation who have specialized training and expertise in providing care for children with movement disorders.

Children’s Hospital Los Angeles provides the newest treatment options for movement disorders and access to the latest clinical trials of new medications and surgical treatments. Our specialists have helped establish diagnostic and care standards for pediatric movement disorders through participation in the National Institutes of Health Taskforce on Childhood Motor Disorders.

  • Conditions, Treatments and Services
  • Our Expert Team
  • Research and Clinical Trials

Commonly Treated Conditions

  • Ataxia
  • Bradykinesia
  • Chorea
  • Dyspraxia
  • Dystonia
  • Myoclonus
  • Parkinsonism
  • Severe tic disorders
  • Spasticity
  • Tremors

Treatment Offerings

  • Deep Brain Stimulation Surgery (DBS)
    Children’s Hospital Los Angeles’ pediatric Deep-Brain Stimulation Program is the only one of its type in California exclusively for children. Deep brain stimulation involves implanting a series of electrodes into specific targets in the brain of children with severe movement disorders, including dystonia and parkinsonism. Electrodes are connected to pacemakers in the chest or abdomen, and the pacemakers block abnormal brain activity and in many cases can reduce abnormal muscle contractions
  • Intrathecal Baclofen Pump (ITB)
    A narrow tube (catheter) is placed alongside the spinal cord and connected to a pump in the abdomen. The system pumps concentrated Baclofen onto the spinal cord. Baclofen is a medicine that can reduce spasticity and sometimes dystonia. By pumping the medicine directly onto the cord, a very strong anti-spasticity effect is possible, without many of the side effects of high doses of oral Baclofen.
  • Botulinum Toxin Injections
    For children with increased tone (hypertonia) in their muscles due to spasticity or dystonia, injection of botulinum toxin into the affected muscles can help to relax the muscles and allow better voluntary movement.
  • Physical therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Motion and gait analysis
  • Orthopaedic surgery

Medications

  • Oral Baclofen - An anti-spasticity drug that can help to relax stiff muscles.
  • Artane (trihexyphenidyl) - An anti-dystonia drug that can help to relax stiff muscles and reduce involuntary postures.
  • Tizanidine - An anti-spasticity drug.
  • Sinemet (levodopa/carbidopa) - An anti-dystonia drug often used with Artane.
  • Clonazepam - Can improve dystonia, myoclonus and certain types of tremor.
  • Other medicines, depending on specific symptoms.

Our experts help diagnose and treat neurological conditions that impact their body movements, and connect children with other appropriate programs within the division when a diagnosis is determined.

Meet Our Team

They also work with specialists in the following areas:

Research

Children’s Hospital Los Angeles’ physician-researchers are internationally recognized for their pioneering contributions in movement control research. The main focus of their research is on teaching children to learn how they can send the right signals from their brain to their muscles. This is done by unlearning incorrect movements and relearning the intended movements.

  • They also perform computer-based measurements of both normal and abnormal movements to help with diagnosis, and to determine the underlying causes of different movement disorders. Another area of interest includes the use of advanced electrophysiology techniques, including transcranial magnetic brain stimulation (TMS) and transcranial direct-current stimulation (TDCS), for both diagnosis and treatment of childhood movement disorders.
  • Additionally, our researchers are studying the relationship between robotics, computational neuroscience and movement disorders. Electrical engineering concepts are used to understand childhood movement disorders and to discover new treatments and enabling devices that will improve motor function for children.
  • Learn more about Research.

Clinical Trials

Children’s Hospital Los Angeles participates in the latest clinic trials for movement disorders. Currently, the following trials are open for enrollment for eligible children:

  • Transcranial Direct-Current Stimulation (TDCS) for treatment of dystonia.
  • Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) for treatment of dystonia.
  • Portable Wearable Biofeedback for Treatment of Weakness, Sensory Neglect, or Dystonia.
  • New Assessment Tool for Evaluation of Dyspraxia in Children with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, and Other Disorders.
  • Improving Assistive Communication Devices and Computer Interfaces for Children with Movement Disorders.
  • Measurement of Accuracy Using a New Muscle Electrical Interface for Prosthetic or Computer Control.
  • Compensation Strategies for Increased Movement Variability and Inaccuracy.

For information about clinical trials or to inquire about eligibility for participation, contact:

Aprille Tongol
Research Lab Coordinator
University of Southern California
1042 Downey Way, Rm. 206
Los Angeles, CA 90089
213-740-1317
tongol@usc.edu