Objective: To assess spasticity in a prevalence population of persons with traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI), and determine the degree of correspondence between self-reported spasticity and investigator-elicited spasticity using the modified Ashworth scale.
Design: Survey of a near total (88%) prevalence population.
Setting: Outpatient clinic of a university hospital.
Patients: A total of 354 individuals with SCI.
Main outcome measures: The survey includes self-reported symptoms, neurologic examination (American Spinal Injury Association [ASIA] classification), physical therapy examination, range of motion (ROM), and complications.
Results: Presence of problematic spasticity was significantly correlated with cervical incomplete (ASIA B-D) injury. Reports of beneficial effects of spasticity were significantly less common in women. Self-reported problematic spasticity was significantly correlated with extensor spasticity. Spasticity was elicitable by movement provocation in 60% of the patients reporting spasticity. Significant correlations were found between elicitable spasticity and limited ROM.
Conclusion: Flexion, extension, and abduction movements performed with the patient placed in a standardized supine test position are suitable both for test of ROM and degree of spasticity. Spasticity was not elicitable by movement provocation on physical examination in 40% of the patients who reported spasticity, thus indicating that the patient's self-report is an important complement to the clinical assessment. A significant association between spasticity and contractures (reduced ROM) was seen.