Arm motor control as predictor for hypertonia after stroke: a prospective cohort study

Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2011 Sep;92(9):1411-7. doi: 10.1016/j.apmr.2011.03.026.


Objectives: To analyze the development of hypertonia in the hemiparetic elbow flexors, and to explore the predictive value of arm motor control on hypertonia in a cohort of first-ever stroke survivors in the first 6 months poststroke.

Design: A prospective cohort study.

Setting: A cohort of stroke survivors from a large, university-affilliated hospital in The Netherlands.

Participants: Patients (N=50) with first-time ischemic strokes and initial arm paralysis who were admitted to a stroke unit.

Interventions: Not applicable.

Main outcome measures: At 48 hours, 10 to 12 days, 3 and 6 months poststroke, hypertonia and arm motor control were assessed using the Modified Ashworth Scale and the Fugl-Meyer Assessment arm score.

Results: The incidence rate of hypertonia reached its maximum before the third month poststroke (30%). Prevalence was 42% at 3 and 6 months. Participants with poor arm motor control at 48 hours poststroke were 13 times more likely to develop hypertonia in the first 6 months poststroke than those with moderate to good arm motor control. These results were not confounded by the amount of arm function training received.

Conclusions: Hypertonia develops in a large proportion of patients with stroke, predominantly within the first 3 months poststroke. Poor arm motor control is a risk factor for the development of hypertonia.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Arm / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Hospitals, University
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Activity
  • Muscle Hypertonia / diagnosis*
  • Muscle Hypertonia / etiology
  • Muscle Hypertonia / physiopathology
  • Paralysis / complications
  • Physical Therapy Modalities*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prevalence
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Stroke / complications
  • Stroke / physiopathology
  • Stroke Rehabilitation*