More MS news articles for September 2002

A New Wrinkle in Botox Benefits: Cincinnati's Drake Center Helps Stroke, MS, Parkinson's Patients

Drake's Dr. Susan Pierson is a leading expert on the benefits of Botox for medical purposes; has also treated brain, spinal cord injury patients since 1990

Sept. 18, 2002

Drake Center, one of the leading post-acute care and rehabilitation hospitals in the country, is also one of the nation's leading healthcare facilities in the use of botulinum toxin, or Botox, for medical purposes.

Since its approval by the Food and Drug Administration in April, the demand for Botox for cosmetic purposes has grown enormously to temporarily remove lines and wrinkles from the face. And while "Botox parties" are all the rage, the substantial medical benefits of Botox for victims of stroke, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, and brain and spinal cord injuries, is less known, but remarkable.

Such victims often suffer spasticity, a chronic movement disorder that can interfere with functional activities, positioning and bracing, and can cause pain and impede normal movement.  Drake's Spasticity and Mobility Management Program uses a variety of medical interventions and therapies, including Botox, to dramatically improve patient quality of life. "Botox has garnered so much attention lately for the cosmetic improvements it can make," explained Drake's Dr. Susan Pierson, who was among the first physicians to use Botox for medical treatment in the early 1990s. "But the life-changing effects it can have on stroke patients and people suffering from brain and spinal cord injuries are very important."

Three such Drake patients include Damian Cremisio, Teresa Spandini and Ken Lazarus. Mr. Cremisio, an accomplished saxophone player currently touring with Andy Williams, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1998, a condition that left him with a limp due to spasticity in his foot. Although he walked with a limp, Damien continued to keep his affliction a secret from almost everyone, fearing he may be treated differently or even fired from his job. In April 2002, Damien began receiving Botox injections from Drake's Dr. Pierson. Immediately, he had a greater range of motion and his limp has actually disappeared altogether. Recently, he was even able to walk 18 holes of golf with only the aid of an ACL brace.

Teresa Spandini suffered a stroke in 1996. Initially she was paralyzed on the right side and could not speak or swallow. After a year of therapy, her right foot still had spasticity, unable to move from the pointed position. She began seeing Dr. Pierson at Drake about two years ago and has since seen incredible improvement in her condition. A combination of regular therapy and Botox injections has helped Teresa increase the flexibility in her right ankle, and even her shoulder and hand, which now allows her to walk.

On July 3, 1998, Ken and Harriet Lazarus were driving in their car when a large tree fell directly onto the roof, smashing it down onto Ken's head and spine. Ken lost all feeling and movement from the neck down. In the fall of 1999, Ken started receiving Botox treatments on his arms from Dr. Tom Watanabe at Drake Center. To that point he was unable to move his arms away from his chest, but the Botox treatments helped release the pressure in his arms and increase the flexibility. With his new mobility and a natural artistic talent, Ken began painting watercolors as a means of expression and purpose. They are a favorite among the doctors and nurses at Drake Center, and Ken has even sold two of his paintings at a church fundraiser. The increased range of motion in his arms has also made it possible for Ken to use the computer.

To receive additional information about Drake Center's use of Botox for medical purposes, or to arrange an interview with Drake's Dr. Susan Pierson or Dr. Thomas Watanabe, please contact Kathy Graham at 513.948.5985 or via pager at 513.230.7323.

About Drake Center

Drake Center is one of the Midwest's leading full-service post-acute care facilities (a not-for-profit health care organization affiliated with the University of Cincinnati). Its efficient 356-bed health care center allows the Drake team to provide medically complex, quality health care. For more information, visit

SOURCE Drake Center

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