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Spasticity after Stroke

WHAT IS SPASTICITY?
- Spasticity is an over-excitation of neurons in the brain that communicate with the neurons in the muscle, and this
causes excess contraction of the muscles affected
- Occurs in about 90% of people post stroke
- Occurs on the opposite side of the area of your brain where you had the stroke
o For example, a left sided stroke will result in (most often) right sided problems
o This is because the neurons that control motion from your brain begin on one side of your body, and then
they cross over to the other side
 This is a protective mechanism built into our bodies- in case of damage, some neuron tracts are
spared so we are not left completely without movement

WHERE CAN SPASTICITY OCCUR?


- Spasticity is common in both the arms and the legs
- There are patterns that are typical with spasticity called flexor synergies or extensor synergies
- Most common presentations are a flexor synergy in the arms and extensor synergy in the legs

Flexor Synergy
Extensor Synergy

Retrieved from:https://www.saebo.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/Flexor-and-Extensor-Synergies.png;
https://c1.staticflickr.com/9/8322/7977095006_07296e9c52_b.jpg; http://www.mhhe.com/hper/physed/athletictraining/illustrations/ch20/20-57e.jpg

WHAT ARE THE EFFECTS OF SPASTICTY? WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP SPASTICTY?


- Painful spasms (muscle cramping) - Keep moving!
- Degenerative changes in the joint o Repeated, correct motions help to re-train the
- Fixed contractures (if not treated) brain to stop sending so many signals and
o Permanent muscle shortening restore normal movement
- Walking problems - Stretching
o Toe dragging/scuffing o Prevent contractures through positioning and
o Trouble lifting leg to clear objects stretching exercises
- Grasping problems - Weight bearing positions
o Allows for stretching of the muscles and sends
signals to the brain to slow down overactive
nerve activity