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Quantitative evaluations of ankle spasticity and stiffness in neurological disorders using manual spasticity evaluator

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Author(s): Qiyu Peng, PhD | Hyung-Soon Park, PhD | Parag Shah, MD | Nicole Wilson, PhD | Yupeng Ren, MS | Yi-Ning Wu, PhD | Jie Liu, BS | Deborah J. Gaebler-Spira, MD | Li-Qun Zhang, PhD

Journal: Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development
ISSN 0748-7711

Volume: 48;
Issue: 4;
Start page: 473;
Date: 2011;
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Keywords: catch angle | cerebral palsy | contracture | manual spasticity evaluator | neurological disorders | quantitative measurement | range of motion | spasticity | Tardieu scale | velocity

ABSTRACT
Spasticity and contracture are major sources of disability in people with neurological impairments that have been evaluated using various instruments: the Modified Ashworth Scale, tendon reflex scale, pendulum test, mechanical perturbations, and passive joint range of motion (ROM). These measures generally are either convenient to use in clinics but not quantitative or they are quantitative but difficult to use conveniently in clinics. We have developed a manual spasticity evaluator (MSE) to evaluate spasticity/contracture quantitatively and conveniently, with ankle ROM and stiffness measured at a controlled low velocity and joint resistance and Tardieu catch angle measured at several higher velocities. We found that the Tardieu catch angle was linearly related to the velocity, indicating that increased resistance at higher velocities was felt at further stiffer positions and, thus, that the velocity dependence of spasticity may also be position-dependent. This finding indicates the need to control velocity in spasticity evaluation, which is achieved with the MSE. Quantitative measurements of spasticity, stiffness, and ROM can lead to more accurate characterizations of pathological conditions and outcome evaluations of interventions, potentially contributing to better healthcare services for patients with neurological disorders such as cerebral palsy, spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, and stroke.
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