How Kansas City doctors are using Botox to help stroke victims in recovery

Posted at 3:31 PM, Jul 29, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-29 23:30:24-04

Most people may be familiar with Botox as a widely used drug for cosmetic purposes and even migraine headaches. Neurologists at North Kansas City Hospital say it’s also one of the most effective treatments for those with “progressively severe spasticity.”

Virgil Newman suffers from the condition after suffering a stroke almost 10 years ago.

Jaci Newman, Newman’s daughter-in-law and caretaker, says, “He just started feeling sick one day and was having some numbness and felt numbness in his back and his arm."

The right-handed 64-year-old lost all movement on his right side, but is still strong on his left side. Simple tasks however, like getting dressed, are an everyday challenge.

Not all stroke patients experience stiffness. Many who do, like Newman, only see it several months after a stroke. By that time, they’re usually out of the hospital. Some have also wrapped up their rehab visits before noticing any tightness.

That's where the Botox comes in. 

Dr. Steven Kosa, neurologist at North Kansas City Hospital, says, “We can inject those overactive muscles and can try to bring you back to a more natural posture. It's not going to bring strength back, but it's going to make it more comfortable for you."

Although it’s ideal for a patient to start the injections as soon as they notice the post-stroke stiffness, starting the treatment late is better than never.

Kosa says, “It's going to take at least a couple of weeks to really start to have any effect, because that Botox needs to work its way in through the muscles."

Patients on this treatment for upper extremity spasticity usually get injections every 12 weeks, two or three more times. In order to see the full effect, they also need to combine the Botox sessions with a physical therapy program.

For more information on Stroke and Neurologic Rehab, click here.




Jane Monreal can be reached at

Follow her on Twitter

Follow @JaneMonreal

Connect on Facebook