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Spasticity is a muscle control disorder that is characterized by tight or stiff muscles and an inability to control those muscles. In addition, reflexes may persist for too long and may be too strong (hyperactive reflexes). For example,an infant with a hyperactive grasp reflex may keep his or her hand in a tight fist.

Spasticity is found in conditions where the brain and/or spinal cord are damaged or fail to develop normally; these include cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury and acquired brain injury including stroke.Damage to the CNS as a result of stroke or spinal cord injury, alter the peripheral nerves in the affected region. This change in input to bodily structures tends to favor excitation and therefore increase nerve excitability.


  • Treatment Options:
  • There are several types of treatment available which must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, depending on the underlying cause, age of the patient, and severity of the spasticity. Different treatments share the common goals of:

    • Relieving the signs and symptoms of spasticity.
    • Reducing the pain and frequency of muscle contractions.
    • Improving gait, hygiene, activities of daily living, and ease of care.
    • Reducing caregiver challenges such as dressing, feeding, transport, and bathing
    • Improving voluntary motor functions involving objects such as reaching for, grasping, moving, and releasing
    • Enabling more normal muscle growth in children

  • Physical and Occupational Therapy:This therapy is designed to reduce muscle tone, maintain or improve range of motion and mobility, increase strength and coordination, and improve comfort. Therapy may include stretching and strengthening exercises, temporary braces or casts, limb positioning, application of cold packs, electrical stimulation, and biofeedback.
  • Oral Medications.The use of oral medications to treat spasticity may be indicated when symptoms interfere with daily functioning or with sleep. Effective medication management may require the use of two or more drugs or a combination of oral medications with another type of treatment. It is very important to work closely with a doctor to devise an individualized treatment plan. Side effects vary greatly by class of medication and patient.

  • Treatment Options

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