If you didn't read our previous post: Tone vs Spasticity Part 1, check that out first!
Now that we know all about tone and spasticity, let’s talk about how we manage it. These symptoms are typically chronic, meaning they are not expected to go away. BUT, the better you get at staying ahead of these symptoms, the more manageable they will be.
Most of the clients we work with at Imago Rehab have spasticity that affects their movement. We are here to help you with these evidence-based suggestions in this blog post but we are truly hopeful to work with you in therapy. If you're looking for better, more effective take on stroke rehabilitation to manage your spasticity, please give us a call or visit our website.
STRETCH. SPLINT. SLEEP. REPEAT. The best way to manage your tone, whether it’s hyper or hypo, is to stretch. Maintaining your range of motion is really important to prevent pain, contractures (joint becomes stuck in a position or small range of motion), and to promote movement. Frequent stretching is very important as your tone can fluctuate throughout the day and if you’re experiencing spasticity, stretching is a good way to combat that. It’s also important to do prolonged stretching. Try to avoid bouncing or moving a joint back and forth to “loosen it up,” because like we said, that rapid movement increases spasticity. Holding a sustained stretch is best practice in this case.
Splinting for prolonged periods of time can be helpful for maintaining range of motion. It’s like a prolonged stretch that you don’t have to actively engage in. Many people choose to wear splints when they are asleep at night. Speak to your doctor, therapist, or neurologist for details about stretching and splinting and how this concept pertains to you.
Next up... sleep. Making sure you are well-rested and lower on stress will also help to maintain tone and reduce spasticity. Your body will naturally tense up if your equilibrium is off so it’s important to get enough sleep and take rest breaks (or even a quick nap) throughout the day.
What about when I’m moving?
Take it SLOW. When you’re moving your affected limb and you experience spasticity, it’s important to move slowly.
The quicker you move, the tighter your affected limb will feel. Take rest and stretch breaks frequently and don’t over-challenge yourself. If something is too difficult, your affected limb will tense up and you’ll end up compensating and learning movement in ways that are not the best or not functional.
If you’re experiencing spasticity, there is also the option to get Botox injections which help to reduce the overactivity of the problem muscle or muscles. Ask your neurologist about this if you feel spasticity is a problem for you.
Another great way to maintain your range of motion is to MOVE…slowly of course. Stay active and try to use your affected limbs as much as possible. At Imago Rehab, we help all our clients with their tone and spasticity woes and we’d love to help you too. Visit our website, imagorehab.com, or call us at 617-671-0789.
If you’re looking for more ways to relax and manage your spasticity, join our Community Groups. We meet once a month (third Wednesday at 1pm Eastern time) and talk about ways to manage stress, relax, and connect with each other. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 617-671-0789 for more information.
Disclaimer: This blog post is for informational purposes only and none of the content in this post is meant to be substituted for medical advice from a doctor. Speak to a doctor or your therapist for more information about how this applies to you.
American Heart Association (2019). Let’s talk about: Spasticity after stroke. Recovery. https://www.stroke.org/-/media/stroke-files/lets-talk-about-stroke/life-after-stroke/ltas_spasticity_english_0419.pdf