Contributed by Prof. Susanne A. Schneider, MD
Consultant Neurologist
Department of Neurology, University Hospital München
Munich, Germany


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 How Do I Examine Rigidity and Spasticity?

Spasticity is a feature of various neurologic conditions due to the loss of inhibition of motor neurons. It clinically presents with a variable combination of paralysis, increased tendon reflex activity (hyperreflexia with brisk reflexes and a positive Babinski sign) and hypertonia (as opposed to rigidity seen as a characteristic feature of parkinsonism). Clonus (most commonly present in the ankle) may be present and presents as involuntary, rhythmic, muscular contractions and relaxations.

Pathophysiologically, the stretch reflex may play a key role in the imbalance between the excitatory and inhibitory inputs to α motor neurons.

Common causes of spasticity include developmental or acquired lesions of the pyramidal tract in the brain and/or spinal cord in the context of cerebral palsy, stroke, multiple sclerosis, trauma, and others.

Spasticity is a common and significant cause of reduced quality of life and independence. Falls are one of the most important consequences (also see: gait disorders).

Evaluation and management of spasticity should focus first on excluding symptomatic causes. After correction of symptomatic causes, management is typically supportive but may include physical and occupational. Specific agents which may improve include GABA receptor agonists, e.g. baclofen or benzodiazepines, e.g. clonazepam, or ryanodine receptor anatagonists, e.g. dantrolene or botulinum toxin. 

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Live Activities
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International Congress

Search abstracts on spasticity submitted to the International Congress (Vancouver, BC)

Scientific Program
View the Final Program to find topics regarding spasticity at the 21st International Congress (Vancouver, BC).

Teaching and Themed Courses
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2018 and 2019
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Supported and Endorsed Meetings
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Movement Disorders Journal
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Movement Disorders Clinical Practice
Movement Disorders Clinical Practice is an online journal committed to publishing high-quality, peer reviewed articles related to clinical aspects of movement disorders.

Video Library
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Reviews & Position Papers
The complete collection of Evidence-Based Medicine reviews and Task Force position papers published in the Movement Disorders Journal

Moving Along
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