TIRR Memorial Hermann’s well-integrated team of clinicians provides comprehensive medical treatment for patients with spasticity, to help these individuals to be as independent, productive and pain-free as they can be.
What is spasticity?
Spasticity is a form of muscle overactivity which can result in contractures, abnormal postures, and pain and stiffness in the muscles of the body due to damage to the central nervous system. According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, spasticity affects more than an estimated 12 million people worldwide.
What are the symptoms of spasticity?
Symptoms and severity of spasticity vary from person to person and may include:
- Increased muscle tone
- Sudden, involuntary flexing (bending) or extending (straightening) of a limb, or jerking of muscle groups
- Overactive reflexes
- Stiff or tight muscles at rest
- Muscle tightness during activity
- Abnormal posture
- Decreased functional abilities and delayed motor development
- Difficulty with care and hygiene
What causes spasticity?
Spasticity is caused by an imbalance of signals from the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) to the muscles. Spasticity can result from damage to the brain or spinal cord, or diseases associated with the brain, including:
How is spasticity managed?
Spasticity frequently impairs one's mobility, positioning, comfort, care and ability to perform activities of daily living. Commonly used management strategies for spasticity include:
- Physical and occupational therapy
- Oral medications, particularly for those with spinal cord injury
- Orthopedic procedures to correct deformities resulting from spasticity or to augment the effects of other treatments
- Bracing and splinting
- Muscle stretching, positioning and movement exercises
- Surgical release of contractures (to alleviate loss of range of motion in joints)
In addition, research has proven the value of new treatment options, including:
- Injected medications – Medications that are injected directly into the spastic muscle, such as phenol and botulinum toxin (Botox®), are used in conjunction with casting, splinting and orthotic management.
- Intrathecal Baclofen pump – The intrathecal Baclofen pump, a mechanical device, is surgically implanted and delivers medication directly into the brain and spinal cord. This treatment targets the lower limbs and can affect the upper limbs as well. The pump is the first new treatment for spasticity of cerebral origin approved by the FDA since 1981. Patients who could potentially benefit from the pump undergo a trial to assess their response to the therapy. If there is a favorable response during the trial, patients are admitted for surgical implantation of the pump.
What are the benefits of rehabilitation for spasticity?
Rehabilitation therapies can help reduce muscle tone, maintain or improve range of motion and mobility, increase strength and coordination, and improve comfort.
Meet the Team
Meet our team of spasticity specialists.
To get started, use this form to become a patient or contact us by phone 1 (800) 44-REHAB (73422) , (713) 797-5942 or fax 713.797.5988
When 33-year-old John Keller was first admitted to TIRR Memorial Hermann, he was in a vegetative state. Less than a year later, he left the rehabilitation hospital walking and talking. Read the full story.