Spasticity is defined as resistance to stretch, where a lack of inhibition from the central nervous system results in excessive contraction of the muscles. Spasticity may ultimately lead to hyperflexia. It mostly occurs in disorders of the central nervous system impacting the upper motor neuron, but it can also present in various types of multiple sclerosis, which are autoimmune conditions.
Spasticity is defined by feeling the resistance of the muscle to passive lengthening in its most relaxed state. A spastic muscle will have immediately noticeable increased resistance to passive stretch when moved with speed or while attempting to be stretched out. There are likely to be multiple other changes in affected musculature and surrounding bones (such as misalignments of bone structure around the spastic muscles). There may be multiple muscles affected, to varying degrees, depending on the location and severity of the upper motor neuron damage. Individuals with spasticity may have any degree of impairment ranging from mild to severe. A relatively mild movement disorder may contribute to a loss of dexterity in an arm, or difficulty with high level mobility such as running or walking on stairs.
For spastic muscles with little impairment, exercise is the primary way to manage it. Muscles with severe spasticity may have problems exercising and may require help. Secondary complications involve the development of contractures, deformity, and postural asymmetries. Interventions may include icing, serial casting, sustained stretching, inhibitory pressure, and medical interventions. Treatment should be done with constant contact positioned over nonspastic areas to avoid stimulating the spastic muscle or muscles.
Medtronic Resources for Severe Spasticity and ITB Therapy
ITB Therapy is a precise, targeted treatment to loosen overly tight muscles. Medtronic offers a range of resources to help you and your doctor better understand your options, including ITB TherapySM (Intrathecal Baclofen Therapy). They work closely with physicians around the world to create therapies that help patients do things they never thought possible.
National Stroke Association
The National Stroke Association offers free tools and resources that help raise awareness of Stroke. Their trained staff has privileged access to education programs that can "make a real difference in your professional development." They have a newsletter and a membership program.