Spasticity occurs when part of the nervous system that controls muscle activity becomes damaged. The damage can arise from injury or a medical event such as a stroke, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, brain tumour or brain damage, which may be caused by oxygen deficiency, encephalitis or meningitis. Spasticity is a disruption in muscle movement patterns that causes certain muscles to contract all at once when you try to move or even at rest. The muscles remain contracted and resist being stretched. It interferes with movement and can also affect your speech and walk.
Symptoms of spasticity can vary from being mild stiffness or tightening of muscles to painful and uncontrollable spasms. Pain or tightness in joints is also common in spasticity.
Spasticity treatment should be provided by a multidisciplinary team employing a shared-care approach. A variety of treatment options and this approach has many benefits. In most cases, a combination of various types of treatment is required to achieve the specific goals of treatment for a particular patient.
A rehabilitation plan must be tailored to individual patient needs. It is likely to involve medical intervention such as botulinum toxin, as well as additional therapies, such as physical, occupational, and psychological approaches. Therapies should aim to optimise management of functional problems such as impaired mobility, strength, balance, and endurance, amongst other spasticity-related issues.
Dr Kim Proudlove