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Neurorehabil Neural Repair. 2010 Jan;24(1):23-33. doi: 10.1177/1545968309343213. Epub 2009 Sep 1.

Management of spasticity after spinal cord injury: current techniques and future directions.

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  • 1Department of Physiology, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois 60611, USA.


Spasticity, resulting in involuntary and sustained contractions of muscles, may evolve in patients with stroke, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, brain injury, and spinal cord injury (SCI). The authors critically review the neural mechanisms that may contribute to spasticity after SCI and assess their likely degree of involvement and relative significance to its pathophysiology. Experimental data from patients and animal models of spasticity as well as computer simulations are evaluated. The current clinical methods used for the management of spasticity and the pharmacological actions of drugs are discussed in relation to their effects on spinal mechanisms. Critical assessment of experimental findings indicates that increased excitability of both motoneurons and interneurons plays a crucial role in pathophysiology of spasticity. New interventions, including forms of spinal electrical stimulation to suppress increased neuronal excitability, may reduce the severity of spasticity and its complications.

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