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Eur J Phys Rehabil Med. 2010 Sep;46(3):423-38.

Rehabilitation procedures in the management of spasticity.

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Neuromotor and Cognitive Rehabilitation Research Centre, Department of Neurological, Neuropsychological, Morphological and Movement Sciences, University of Verona, Verona, Italy.


Spasticity is a major disabling symptom in many patients with spinal and/or cerebral lesions. During functional movements, spasticity manifests itself within the complex condition of the "spastic movement disorder". The pathophysiology of the spastic movement disorder relies on multiple factors including abnormal supraspinal drive, abnormal control of reflex activities, and changes in muscle mechanical properties. The most widely used procedures for management of spasticity are represented by pharmacological treatment aimed at inhibiting reflex hyperexcitability. In the last decades, several non pharmacological procedures for treating spasticity have been put forward, including muscle stretching, muscle reinforcement, physical agents and pain management. These procedures may have both neurophysiological and biomechanical effects on the spastic movement disorder. In the present paper, the literature concerning non-pharmacological procedures in the treatment of spasticity was reviewed and discussed, taking into account the multifaceted pathophysiology of the spastic movement disorder. Although further research in this field is recommended, existing evidence supports the potential role of rehabilitation interventions as a therapeutic tool, which could be integrated with traditional pharmacological procedures in the management of the spastic movement disorder.

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