What Is Spasticity?

Derived from the Greek word "spastos", which means pulling or drawing, spasticity is a sudden, involuntary increase in both muscle tension and tone that limits overall movement. People who suffer from spasticity struggle to maintain normal posture and may hunch forward due to their inability to lengthen or extend the muscles that are necessary for achieving a fully erect position. This condition can also affect the individual's gait, thereby making it impossible to walk comfortably or to engage in other, essential movements.

Common Causes

While this condition is commonly associated with a number of major illnesses and injury events, it's primary, underlying cause starts with the neurological system. This condition is the result of imbalance in the nerve signals that are sent to the muscles via the brain and spinal cord. This imbalance can be the result of a spinal cord injury, spinal subluxations (misalignment of the vertebrae that causes nerve compression and diminished nerve-to-brain communication), multiple sclerosis, stroke, cerebral palsy and traumatic brain injuries. This development can also occur in those with degenerative brain diseases that affect fine motor control such as Parkinson's disease.

Developing The Scissored Gait

One common sign of this condition is a scissored gait. With this, a person's legs will involuntarily cross while walking. This development creates a significant decrease in overall mobility by reducing balance, coordination and speed. While people with a scissored gait may be able to continue participating in a range of everyday activities, limited mobility along with an increased risk of falling can make it harder to practice good self-care (such as bathing and dressing), maintain normal work responsibilities, or engage in challenging, physical exercises including cycling, dancing, jogging and climbing. In fact, even going up and down stairs can be difficult, if not impossible when specific leg and abdominal muscles are affected by spastic muscle contractions.

Signs And Symptoms

Among the most noticeable signs of this condition is a dramatic increase in muscle tone across the affected area or areas. As the muscles involuntarily flex and maintain their contracted position, a person will look significantly more muscular and defined then he or she has in the past. Other signs and symptoms include:

Overactive reflexes

Sustained, involuntary muscle contractions
Permanent muscle contractions (muscles that will never regain their relaxed state)
Clonus (rapid involuntary movements that are performed in a series)

If this condition is left untreated, it can additionally lead to deformation of the joints and bones. Treatments for this condition can include range of motion exercises, medications that relax the muscles, and rehabilitative and functional therapies. Over time, even if the underlying cause is not resolved, it may be possible to improve balance, range of motion and overall motor control for a significantly increased life quality.

Author's Bio: 

Helping families and loved ones understand care after a stroke or brain injury and assisting the injured in rehabilitation and safety is a passion of the author, Leon Edward who has spent over three decades successfully living with effects as hemiparesis after traumatic brain injury being shot in the head and neck.

Review a copy of author's book, Understanding Spasticity tips for living with spasticity, understanding causes, symptoms, effects, emotional consequences of spasticity, realistic goals, Exercises, Treatment Options plus long term outlook long term with Spasticity … , Rehabilitation exercises, on Amazon, Click Here .

Free Hemiparesis, Stroke, head injury resources as a Safety and Care Checklist for living after a stroke or traumatic brain injury plus a list of over 100 must know websites and associations for support groups, relative information, social media groups, personal blogs of affected brothers and sisters, visit here. and get a pdf copy of the safety and care checklist when you subscribe to his newsletter free.

Also At his Mind Brain Health and improvement website, he offers all tips, techniques, to improve focus and concentration, ways to remember better and increase our memory skills, techniques to focus better and read faster, resources to optimize your brain power, use all of your intellect and even increase your IQ including brain software and audio training. visit,
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