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At Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare, we offer interdisciplinary evaluations for muscle spasticity in children, teens and adults. Our thorough assessments—which may include testing in our world-renowned James R. Gage Center for Gait and Motion Analysis—help us determine the most effective treatments for spasticity related to cerebral palsy and other complex conditions.
Our three-part video series includes an overview, Caring for the Child who has Cerebral Palsy, and two videos that focus on specific treatment options, Orthopedic Care for Children Who Have Cerebral Palsy and Spasticity Treatment Options for Cerebral Palsy.
Why Choose Gillette?
- Gillette is one of the world’s top cerebral palsy treatment centers, offering experts in muscle spasticity and related treatments.
- We are one of the nation’s Best Children’s Hospital in pediatric orthopedics.
- Ours is one of the world’s busiest and most highly respected clinical gait and motion analysis centers.
- We offer the nation’s highest concentration of pediatric rehabilitation medicine specialists.
- Our team approach to spasticity evaluations and subsequent treatments is supported by superb measurable outcomes.
Spasticity is a term that describes overly tight muscles caused by disrupted communication among the brain, spinal cord and peripheral nerves.
Usually, sensory messages travel through nerve rootlets to control muscle tone, allowing people to maintain their posture and perform quick, smooth movements. When that process malfunctions, however, muscles can become spastic, putting up an unusually high resistance to external forces.
Spasticity can occur with the following conditions:
- Brain injury and related neurotrauma
- Cerebral palsy
- Spinal cord injury and related neurotrauma
- Stroke or brain injury caused by a sustained lack of oxygen
Spasticity ranges from mild to severe. Children who have mild spasticity often don’t need treatment. If spasticity interferes with daily activities or restricts joint movements, however, patients should receive comprehensive evaluations and custom treatments. Left untreated, spasticity can lead to muscle contractures (muscles that are too short or too tight) and bone deformities.
About Spasticity Evaluations
A spasticity evaluation at Gillette involves a number of specialists in diverse disciplines working together. Our goal is to get a complete picture of a patient’s muscle spasticity and its related effects.
Spasticity evaluations involve experts in:
Our team collaborates to evaluate a patient’s spasticity from a variety of perspectives and form a comprehensive treatment plan.
What to Expect
A spasticity evaluation typically begins in Gillette’s James R. Gage Center for Gait and Motion Analysis.
During gait analysis, engineers use sophisticated video and computer technology to capture movement (walking) patterns and understand a patient’s energy consumption (the amount of energy used when walking and moving). A physical therapist assesses body movement, range of motion, functional skills, strength, and ability to participate in therapy.
A spasticity evaluation also includes examinations by three types of physicians:
- A pediatric neurosurgeon studies the brain, spinal cord and nervous system to determine the biological factors causing spasticity. A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) study or computed tomography (CT) scan often support the exam. Treatment recommendations might include selective dorsal rhizotomy surgery or placement of a baclofen pump.
- A pediatric orthopedist assesses how spasticity affects bones, muscles and the ability to control body movements. X-rays and other imaging studies might accompany this exam. Treatment recommendations might include orthopedic surgery to correct muscle contractures and bone deformities.
- A pediatric rehabilitation medicine physician assesses how spasticity affects mobility and daily activities. Treatment recommendations might include medications, rehabilitation therapy, assistive technology devices, or comprehensive inpatient rehabilitation care (for cases when treatment involves selective dorsal rhizotomy surgery and/or orthopedic surgery).
Forming a Treatment Plan
Treatment for spasticity often involves a combination of approaches to ensure the best possible outcomes. Our team approach results in a custom treatment plan that addresses the many effects of spasticity.
Typical treatment options include one or a combination of the following:
- Intrathecal baclofen pump
- Botulinum toxin and phenol (injected spasticity medicines)
- Oral medications, such as baclofen (Lioresal®), diazepam (Valium®), dantrolene sodium (Dantrium®) or tizanidine (Zanaflex®)
- Orthopedic surgery, including single event multilevel surgery (SEMLS) and individual orthopedic surgeries
- Orthoses (braces)
- Rehabilitation therapies, including physical therapy and occupational therapy
- Selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR) surgery
Often, patients receive different treatments or combinations of treatments at various points in their lives. Working in teams, our highly trained experts develop a plan to manage spasticity and its effects throughout patients’ lives.
Effective treatment for spasticity requires a team approach. That’s why Gillette brings together experts in a variety of disciplines to perform evaluations and develop custom treatment plans. Our goal is to achieve the best possible outcomes for our patients.
Spasticity evaluations most often involve experts in the following Gillette specialties and services:
For more information about the comprehensive services we provide at Gillette, search Conditions and Care.
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