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Spasticity Awareness Week is June 13-19, 2016. Please join us in raising awareness about this condition that affects over 12 million people worldwide. 

To recognize Spasticity Awareness Week 2016, National Stroke Association has partnered with five advocacy organizations to form The Spasticity Alliance. This week we are launching the website as a resource for individuals living with spasticity, family and caregivers who want to learn more about spasticity.

The resources below contain information about the symptoms of spasticity, management techniques and treatments that help to ease the symptoms of spasticity. While there is no cure for this condition, there are many tactics that can help individuals living with spasticity resume their normal daily activities.

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What is spasticity?

After a stroke, damage to the brain can block messages between muscles and the brain causing arm and leg muscles to cramp or spasm (spasticity), kind of like a bad charley horse. This will limit your coordination and muscle movement. This post-stroke condition makes daily activities such as bathing, eating and dressing more difficult.

Spasticity can cause long periods of strong contractions in major muscle groups, causing painful muscle spasms. These spasms can produce:

  • A tight fist
  • Bent elbow
  • Arm pressed against the chest
  • Stiff knee
  • Pointed foot
  • Stiffness in the arms, fingers or legs

Can spasticity be treated?

There are many strategies and treatments for spasticity to help you recover, return to work and regain function. In order to achieve the best results possible, a mixture of therapies and medications are often used to treat spasticity. Ask a healthcare professional about the best treatment plan for you. Some of the options include:

  • Braces. Putting a brace on an affected limb
  • Exercises. Range-of-motion exercises
  • Stretching. Gentle stretching of tighter muscles
  • Movement. Frequent repositioning of body parts
  • Medications. Medications are available to treat the effects of spasticity
  • ITB Therapy. A programmable, battery-powered medical device that stores and delivers medication to treat some of the symptoms of severe spasticity
  • Injections. Injections block the chemicals that make muscles tight
  • Surgery. Surgery on the muscles or tendons and joints may block pain and restore movement

Tips to live with spasticity

Managing spasticity with assistive devices, aids and home adaptations can help ensure your safety and reduce the risk of spasticity-related falls. Physical and occupational therapists will recommend the appropriate aid(s) as well as safety procedures, maintenance and proper fit. Some modifications in your home to improve safety include:

  • Ramps
  • Grab bars
  • Raised toilet seats
  • Shower or tub bench
  • Plastic adhesive strips on the bottom of the bathtub
  • Braces, canes, walkers and wheelchairs may help you move about freely as you gain strength.

Always follow rehabilitation therapists’ recommendations regarding limitations and safety needs.



Spasticity Resources: 

  Spasticity Checklist              Faces of Stroke and Spasticity    


  Spasticity Animated Video          Spasticity Infographic 

    Tweet to Beat Spasticity                            Mobility Brochure


Additional Resources

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Learn more about spasticity - a common post-stroke condition

Seeking more information about spasticity? The Spasticity Alliance is here to help.

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For over 30 years we have been the trusted source for free resources and education to the stroke community. Together, we empower survivors and their circle of care to thrive after stroke. Make your tax-deductible donation today to support the growing needs of the stroke community.