Treating Spasticity

Sandeep Singh, MD

Weeks to months after a traumatic injury or the onset of a chronic illness, patients may develop a variety of complications, including spasticity. Patients with spasticity often experience involuntary muscle tightness and stiffness, spasms and slow or uncontrollable movements. The condition is commonly associated with stroke, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury (SCI), traumatic brain injury and other neurologic diseases.

Those who suffer from spasticity often need extensive care by a family member or caregiver, because the condition can make activities of daily living, such as walking, personal hygiene, or the ability to dress or feed oneself, difficult to accomplish. Fortunately, spasticity management can increase function, independence and quality of life – even years after the onset of an injury or illness.

Good Shepherd’s Spasticity Management Program utilizes a team approach to evaluate and treat spasticity, which includes the expertise of physical medicine and rehabilitation physicians who work in concert with physical and occupational therapists. The team will assess posture, muscle strength, movement control, coordination, endurance and muscle response to stretching.

Treatment and interventions may include:

  • Non-invasive options, such as icing, casting and sustained stretching
  • An exercise program designed by a therapist or an accredited exercise physiologist (AEP)
  • Oral or injectable medications used to address pain, functional deficits or to reduce the signals between nerves and muscles
  • Rehabilitation technology, which can provide passive or assisted movement
  • Surgery (in severe cases)

Good Shepherd’s Spasticity Management Program’s goal for each patient is to preserve range of motion and strength, as well as increase function and independence.