Spasticity: Quantitative measurements as a basis for assessing effectiveness of therapeutic intervention

J. F. Lehmann, R. Price, B. J. DeLateur, S. Hinderer, C. Traynor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

117 Scopus citations


Spasticity, a common problem in upper motor neuron lesions, frequently results in uncontrolled involuntary motion that interferes with function. A quantifiable method related to the mechanical output of the muscle is needed to test and improve therapeutic intervention. A sinusoidal displacement of 5°C was used to measure elastic and viscous stiffness around the ankle at frequencies from 3 to 12 Hz. To isolate viscoelastic response, the influences of inertia and equipment drag were eliminated. Test-retest correlation values were 0.953 for elastic and 0.992 for viscous stiffness. The elastic stiffness in 13 spastic subjects under nerve block was significantly higher than that of 13 healthy subjects (p ≤ 0.05), indicating early changes associated with contracture. Elastic and viscous response is expressed by the total stiffness vector containing both components, the Nyquist diagram. This diagram's pathlength from 3 to 12 Hz was calculated and showed high test-retest reliability in healthy subjects. The median pathlength value for the spastic group was 98 Newton-meters/radian (N-m/rad) and, for the normal group, 24N-m/rad, a statistically significant difference (p≤0.0001). A mathematical model of the spastic response shows that the Nyquist diagram's pathlength relates to reflex loop gain and is independent of the shift in passive properties. The model predicts a shift in passive properties during spastic responses relative to responses measured during nerve block. Thus, subtraction of passive responses measured during nerve block may not isolate the remaining reflex response, but the pathlength measure relating to the reflex response gain was unaffected, allowing evaluation of therapeutic intervention effectiveness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6-15
Number of pages10
JournalArchives of physical medicine and rehabilitation
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1989
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation


Dive into the research topics of 'Spasticity: Quantitative measurements as a basis for assessing effectiveness of therapeutic intervention'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this