Working with NICE to help children with cerebral palsy

Children with cerebral palsy will now be able to have a surgical procedure that can improve their ability to walk. Working for the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) UMS researchers carried out an analysis that confirmed that selective dorsal rhizotomy improved outcomes for children suffering from this lifelong condition.

Selective dorsal rhizotomy, involves cutting some of the sensory nerves in order to relieve stiffness, improve mobility and reduce children’s pain levels. The operation is irreversible, and it had not previously been fully established whether it improved children’s quality of life, or whether there were any other long term effects.

The results, published in The Lancet Child and Adolescent Health, showed the procedure benefited children by improving their movement, quality of life and levels of pain. They also found that there were no significant health risks to the children from the procedure.

This evidence was strong enough that NHS England has decided to fund the procedure for eligible children aged 3-9 years.

Janet Peacock, Professor of Medical Statistics at King’s, said: “We were commissioned to fill an evidence gap around selective dorsal rhizotomy for treating cerebral palsy – previous trials didn’t look at children’s quality of life and there was not enough evidence about how children fared in the longer term. Those were both important aspects to be considered. Our study provided convincing evidence that the procedure helped the children.

“NHS England have now decided that this procedure will be funded as a direct result of this innovative project. It’s great to get this decision so that it will make a difference to patients.”

You can find the paper here.