Bell’s palsy or acute idiopathic lower motor neurone facial paralysis is characterised by sudden onset paralysis or weakness of the muscles to one side of the face controlled by the facial nerve. It is the third most common neurological reason for children to present acutely to hospital.
In adults, there is conclusive evidence from two major recent trials that a short course of prednisolone, a cheap, widely available and safe steroid, can significantly increase the number of Bell’s palsy patients who completely recover. While the medical problems associated with Bell’s palsy are similar, in children there is no good evidence that prednisolone is an effective treatment.
Many neurological conditions progress differently in children and treatment methods sometimes vary. Children may react differently to prednisolone and without paediatric evidence; treatment guidelines for children with Bell’s palsy remain absent or vague, with variable and overall low rates of steroid use in children by physicians.
The lack of evidence and clinical uncertainty in the treatment of Bell’s palsy in children warrants a definitive trial to determine the efficacy of prednisolone as a treatment for this condition in children. The aim of this study is to assess the utility of steroids in Bell’s palsy in children in a large multicentre randomised, placebo-controlled, trial. The trial will take place in at least 10 hospitals within Australia and New Zealand, involving more than 500 children.READ MORE
Convulsive Status Epilepticus (CSE) is the most common childhood neurological emergency, sometimes resulting in death or serious disability. CSE is managed with anticonvulsant medications in a step-wise approach until seizures stop. While some management strategies for CSE are well supported by evidence (e.g. initial administration of benzodiazepines), subsequent strategies are based on expert consensus and not evidence. Phenytoin, the traditional second line agent for CSE has a high failure rate, causes adverse events and must be administered slowly. Levetiracetam, a newer anticonvulsant, has a favourable adverse events profile, can be administered quickly and has good efficacy for various seizure types.
This research project proposes to undertake a randomised controlled trial of the second line anticonvulsants phenytoin and levetiracetam for CSE in children. This multi-centre study was a world first and is likely to have a profound impact on the management of CSE in children in New Zealand, Australia and worldwide, in either confirming the current second line medication used or recommending a newer second line medication.READ MORE
Many children sustain head injuries and present to emergency departments for evaluation. Even a seemingly minor incident may lead to serious injury requiring neurosurgery. While head computer tomography (CT) identifies all important injuries, there is an increasing recognition that radiation from CTs can increase the risk of fatal brain cancers, especially in younger children.
Failure to identify a significant intracranial injury quickly may result in catastrophic consequences including long-term neurological disability and or death. A number of evidence-based head injury (HI) clinical decision rules (CDRs) have been developed to help physicians identify patients at risk of having a significant head injury. These CDRs provide recommendations (including CTs) based on the presence of certain features of the history or physical examination. No HI CDRs have been validated outside of their original settings.
The identification of an optimal CDR for implementation would help to minimise risks, both of missing a clinically significant intracranial injury, and of exposure to radiation from cranial CT scans. The results will likely have a major impact on head injury management in children in Australia, New Zealand and worldwide.READ MORE