Spasticity and Movement Disorders

What are Spasticity and Movement Disorders?

Spasticity is one form of movement disorder (an inability to produce and control bodily movements), that presents as increased tone or stiffness of the muscles. Spastic and other movement disorders are usually the result of problems with the part of the brain that control voluntary movement, of the body, arms and legs.

Other common types of movement disorders include:
  1. Ataxia: an inability to control or coordinate one's muscles’ actions.
  2. Chorea: sudden, rapid, jerky movements.
  3. Dystonia: twisting movements.
  4. Myoclonus: sudden, involuntary, uncontrollable, very strong twitching movements from muscle spasms, followed by relaxation.
  5. Tremors: an unintentional and uncontrollable rhythmic movement of one part or limb of the body.


What causes spasticity and movement disorders?

Normal movement is the result of a very complex system which can be affected by many disease processes. Some spasticity and movement disorders are caused by inherited genetic and/or metabolic abnormalities; others are the result of lack of oxygen to the brain, or strokes, injuries to the brain or spinal cord, infections, or poisonings. Sometimes the cause is unknown.


What are the symptoms of spasticity and movement disorders?

In addition to the abnormal movements seen, there may be difficulties with walking or speech. Children with spasticity and movement disorders may be of normal or above normal intelligence; however they may suffer from an inability to communicate, and may have learning and/or neurodevelopmental abnormalities.


What are spasticity and movement disorder care options?

There are a variety of treatments options to manage spasticity, including oral medications, Botox injections, Intrathecal baclofen trials as well as pumps, selective dorsal rhizotomy, and deep brain stimulation. Some patients may also need orthopedic surgery to correct bone deformities or lengthen tendons.
Optimal treatment for spasticity and movement disorders require a full range team of pediatric subspecialists including Neurologists, Neurosurgeons, Orthopedic surgeons, and Rehabilitation specialists. 
The Spasticity and Movement Disorders Program, part of Nicklaus Children's Hospital's Brain Institute, brings together the team of specialists necessary to optimize the management challenges of your child.

Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf

This page was last updated on: 10/31/2017 11:52:46 AM

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