Doctor uses Botox to treat brain injury damage

April 12, 2010 5:19:03 PM PDT
A traumatic brain injury can cause drawn muscles in the arms or legs, and painful muscle spasms. But one Iraq veteran suffering from a brain injury is getting help - from Botox. Adrian Olivarez was an Army scout in Iraq.

"Me and my buddies were like, 'Just pretend that you're already dead, you know,'" Olivarez said. "And being dead, it makes you not care because it can happen in the blink of an eye."

It happened. Not in Iraq, but here in a car accident.

Bleeding in his brain caused his right hand to stay clenched and the muscles of his right arm and leg to stay tight and unable to move.

"When he tries to move his arm, the wrong muscles are firing," said Dr. Darlene Makulski, a rehab physician with the DeBakey VA Medical Center.

Dr. Makulski gives him Botox shots to loosen the muscles that keep his arm tight and hand clenched.

"It's gonna be way looser, you know, and for the arm, it's gonna be way better," Olivarez said.

Dr. Makulski injects more than 24 shots in his arm, and leg. It helps his movement and the pain of constant muscle contractions.

"This is helping improve his quality of life, reintegrate him into the community and give him an overall sense of independence," Dr. Makulski said.

After two weeks of treatment, Olivarez's hand can open and close enough for physical therapy.

"Before it was hardly anything, but now, it's easier...to move (my hand) down and up," he said.

His right arm can hang on his side more naturally. He still lifts his right leg but the walking is better.

Sensors around his neck, knee, and on his ankle also help him walk.

How far will Botox and therapy take him? He doesn't know yet.

"I live everyday at a time, you know?" he said.


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