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Acta Orthop. 2019 Mar 25:1-10. doi: 10.1080/17453674.2019.1590769. [Epub ahead of print]

The development of spasticity with age in 4,162 children with cerebral palsy: a register-based prospective cohort study.

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a Department of Clinical Sciences , Lund, Orthopedics, Lund University , Sweden ;
b Centre for Clinical Research, Uppsala University , Region Västmanland , Västerås , Sweden.


Background and purpose - Spasticity is often regarded as a major cause of functional limitation in children with cerebral palsy (CP). We analyzed the spasticity development with age in the gastrosoleus muscle in children with CP. Children and methods - This is a longitudinal cohort study of 4,162 children (57% boys) with CP born in 1990-2015, monitored using standardized follow-up examinations in the Swedish surveillance program for CP. The study is based on 57,953 measurements of spasticity of the gastrosoleus muscle assessed using the Ashworth scale (AS) in participants between 0 and 15 years of age. The spasticity was analyzed in relation to age, sex, and Gross Motor Function Classification System (GMFCS) levels using a linear mixed model. Development of spasticity with age was modeled as a linear spline. Results - The degree of spasticity increased in most children over the first 5 years of life. At 5 years of age, 38% had an AS level of ≥ 2. The spasticity then decreased for 65% of the children during the remaining study period. At 15 years of age only 22% had AS ≥ 2. The level of spasticity and the rate of increase and decrease before and after 5.5 years of age were higher in children at GMFCS IV-V. Interpretation - The degree of spasticity of the gastrosoleus muscle often decreases after 5 years of age, which is important for long-term treatment planning and should be considered in spasticity management.

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