Twelve million Americans suffer from a condition called Spasticity, which causes tight, stiff muscles or spasms that may make movement, posture, and balance difficult. It is caused by damage or injury to the central nervous system and commonly occurs after a stroke, brain or spinal cord injury, Cerebral Palsy or Multiple Sclerosis.
Culicchia Neurological Clinic’s Andrea Toomer, MD, Lauren Sharett MD and Physical Therapist Carrie Black discussed the latest treatment options at a recent seminar.
“Spasticity cannot be cured but we can manage and improve it,” Dr. Toomer told attendees. Treatment options may include taking prescription Baclofen orally or a more aggressive approach may be needed, including:
Botox Injections at the site of the affected muscle.
Intrathecal Therapy – a pump delivers medicine directly to the fluid around the spinal cord.
Physical Therapy – to maximize the benefit of medical treatments.
Spasticity may be mild and affect a single limb or joint or it can be more severe, making it almost impossible to move one’s body. In severe cases, it can essentially lock up a patient’s arms and legs, making movement very difficult and sometimes impossible.
“Spasticity makes everything harder to do, for the patient and their family members. There are options available to improve the condition and the patient’s quality of life,” Dr. Toomer stated.
In the case of patient Amber Scott, who has battled spasticity after suffering a brain hemorrhage in the late stages of her pregnancy, the treatment has made a tremendous difference. Amber is undergoing physical and occupational therapy to supplement her treatments. You may have seen Amber’s story on the Today show.
Michele Konnecker says physical therapy has been crucial to being able to walk again after a stroke left her paralayzed on her left side. She works with Physical Therapist Carrie Black and says “I find I’m more stable when I’m walking. Carrie re-taught me how to walk so I was not as much of a fall risk. My balance has improved tremendously.”
A surgically implanted Baclofen pump helped ease the muscle rigidity of Suzann Millet, who has battled Multiple Sclerosis for decades. In the video below she and her daughter describe the benefits of having the timed-release treatment that the pump provides.