What is spasticity in traumatic brain injury (TBI)?

Updated: Feb 01, 2018
  • Author: Percival H Pangilinan, Jr, MD; Chief Editor: Stephen Kishner, MD, MHA  more...
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Tone is defined as resistance to stretch or movement across a joint during relaxation. Spasticity is defined as velocity-dependent increase in tone. Rigidity is also a function of tone, but it is defined as the non–velocity-dependent increase in tone. These 3 terms are not interchangeable.

In one inpatient rehabilitation unit, spasticity was found in an estimated 25% of patients with TBI. [36]

Spasticity is most often encountered in lesions of the upper motor neurons, whereas rigidity is most common in disorders of the basal ganglia. The morbidity associated with spasticity is variable, because in some people, spasticity may assist in leg extension for walking or finger flexion for grasping. Prolonged low tone after TBI is generally predictive of poor motor recovery.

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