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Clin Neurophysiol. 2005 Jan;116(1):93-100.

Differences in kinematic parameters and plantarflexor reflex responses between manual (Ashworth) and isokinetic mobilisations in spasticity assessment.

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Laboratoire d'Etudes de la Motricité Humaine, Faculté des Sciences du Sport et de l'EP de l'Université de Lille 2, France.



The purpose of this study was first to compare the kinematic parameters of imposed ankle mobilizations measured during Ashworth or isokinetic tests and, second, to better understand why the stretch reflex was more or less easily elicited by one method or the other.


Passive dorsiflexions were applied on eight adult patients with plantarflexor spasticity in two conditions: (i) manually, using the Ashworth test where passive dorsiflexions were performed freely by seven rehabilitation clinicians, and (ii) instrumentally, using an isokinetic device (Cybex Norm) and a dorsiflexion velocity at 300 degrees /s. Mean values of initial ankle position, maximal angular velocity (theta;'(max)), maximal angular acceleration (theta;''(max)) and plantarflexor reflex responses obtained with each method were compared.


During the Ashworth test, all the patients presented reflex activities in the triceps surae while, during the isokinetic mobilization, only three out of the eight patients tested shown reflex responses. theta;'(max) values were significantly higher (P<0.05) in the manual test (308+/-80 degrees /s vs 216+/-5.5 degrees /s for the isokinetic test). The most marked difference concerned the theta;''(max) values (5046+/-2181 degrees /s(2) for the Ashworth test vs 819+/-18 degrees /s(2) for the isokinetic test, P<0.001). This parameter was significantly correlated with the mean rms-EMG values of the gastrocnemius lateralis (GL) and the soleus (SOL).


This study indicates that passive dorsiflexions imposed during Ashworth and isokinetic tests largely differ in velocity and acceleration, and the higher dynamic parameters evaluated during the Ashworth test could mainly explain that the stretch reflex was more easily elicited during this manual testing.


If isokinetic devices offer numerous advantages in the assessment of passive resistance to spastic muscle stretch, they cannot be used to simulate the manual test.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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