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Techniques to reduce Spasticity

Spasticity is a condition in which there is an abnormal increase in muscle tone or stiffness of muscle, which might interfere with movement, or be associated with discomfort or pain. Spasticity is usually caused by damage to nerve pathways within the brain or spinal cord that control muscle movement.

About 25 to 43% of stroke survivors will have spasticity in the first year of stroke.


The Effects of spasticity include:

• Stiff fingers, arms or legs

• Muscles contract and relax on their own

• Contracture that may cause pain or discomfort

• Muscle tiredness

• Muscle and joint deformity over time


Techniques to reduce Spasticity:


  • Moving as much as possible is important to ease muscle tightening and prevent muscle shortening. Regular stretching with a wide range of motion is helpful.

  • Braces or splints may help to hold a muscle in place and stop it from contracting.

  • Weight bearing through standing promotes anti‐gravity muscle activity in the trunk and lower limbs, improve soft tissue and joint flexibility, through prolonged stretch and altered sensory input, resulting in reduction of lower limb spasms, and positive psychological effect.

  • Aerobic exercise is physical exercise (e.g. walking, cycling, swimming) that intends to improve the oxygen system by increasing muscle strength and endurance as well as exercising the heart and lungs

  • Neuro muscular techniques: Bobath therapy, Neuromuscular electrical stimulation, mechanical gait trainer has been shown to decrease spasticity in Stroke patients.

  • Cryotherapy: Local application of cold is used clinically to diminish the resistance of spastic muscle to rapid stretching and to decrease or abolish clonus

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