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Spasticity: Spastic movement disorder


Dietz, V (2010). Spasticity: Spastic movement disorder. In: Stone, J H; Blouin, M. International Encyclopedia of Rehabilitation. USA, online.

Abstract

Antispastic medications that are directed to reduce clinical signs of spasticity, such as exaggerated reflexes and muscle tone, do not improve the movement disorder. Medication can even increase weakness which might interfere with functional movements, such as walking. In clinical practice, signs of exaggerated tendon tap reflexes associated with muscle hypertonia are the consequence of spinal cord injury (SCI). They are generally thought to be responsible for spastic movement disorders. Most antispastic treatments are, therefore, directed at the reduction of reflex activity. In recent years, a discrepancy between spasticity as measured in the clinic and functional spastic movement disorder was noticed, which is primarily due to the different roles of reflexes in passive and active states, respectively. We now know that central motor lesions are associated with loss of supraspinal drive and defective use of afferent input with impaired behaviour of short-latency and long-latency reflexes. These changes lead to paresis and maladaptation of the movement pattern. Secondary changes in mechanical muscle fibre, collagen tissue, and tendon properties (e.g., loss of sarcomeres, subclinical contractures) result in spastic muscle tone, which in part compensates for paresis and allows functional movements on a simpler level of organisation. Antispastic drugs should primarily be applied in complete SCI. In mobile patients they can accentuate paresis and therefore should be applied with caution.

Antispastic medications that are directed to reduce clinical signs of spasticity, such as exaggerated reflexes and muscle tone, do not improve the movement disorder. Medication can even increase weakness which might interfere with functional movements, such as walking. In clinical practice, signs of exaggerated tendon tap reflexes associated with muscle hypertonia are the consequence of spinal cord injury (SCI). They are generally thought to be responsible for spastic movement disorders. Most antispastic treatments are, therefore, directed at the reduction of reflex activity. In recent years, a discrepancy between spasticity as measured in the clinic and functional spastic movement disorder was noticed, which is primarily due to the different roles of reflexes in passive and active states, respectively. We now know that central motor lesions are associated with loss of supraspinal drive and defective use of afferent input with impaired behaviour of short-latency and long-latency reflexes. These changes lead to paresis and maladaptation of the movement pattern. Secondary changes in mechanical muscle fibre, collagen tissue, and tendon properties (e.g., loss of sarcomeres, subclinical contractures) result in spastic muscle tone, which in part compensates for paresis and allows functional movements on a simpler level of organisation. Antispastic drugs should primarily be applied in complete SCI. In mobile patients they can accentuate paresis and therefore should be applied with caution.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Book Section, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Balgrist University Hospital, Swiss Spinal Cord Injury Center
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:2010
Deposited On:04 Jan 2011 08:22
Last Modified:16 Oct 2016 07:06
Free access at:Official URL. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1038/sc.2008.45
Official URL:http://cirrie.buffalo.edu/encyclopedia/en/article/273/

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