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Are H and stretch reflexes in hemiparesis reproducible and correlated with spasticity?

Abstract

The measurement of spasticity has always presented a problem to clinicians and researchers alike. As yet, there is no literature addressing the reproducibility of the existing barrage of clinical evaluations of spasticity and reflex measurement. Also not clear is whether or not a systematic relationship might exist between these multiple indices of spasticity. After delineating the differences in spasticity scores and reflex functions between spastic and normal states, the aims of this study were to examine the reliability of these measurements in hemiparetic subjects, and the correlation between altered reflex functions and clinically measured spasticity. An aggregate of lower limb reflexes was comapred between ten spastic hemiparetic and seven age-matched normal subjects. Lower limb reflexes examined were: (1) the ratio of maximal H reflex to M response (H/M ratio), (2) the inhibition of the H reflex during vibration (Hvib/Hctl ratio), and (3) soleus stretch reflexes (SR/M ratio). H and stretch reflex latencies were shorter (P < 0.05), and reflex amplitudes were significantly greater (H/M ratios,P < 0.05; SR/M areas,P < 0.005) in spastic subjects. While H/M ratios, Hvib/Hctl ratios, SR/M areas and SR onset angles were highly reproducible, only some physiological measurements showed consistent but non-significant relationships with clinical spasticity. The decreased reflex latencies and increased reflex responses in the hemiparetic subjects suggested that spasticity may be related to reduced reflex thresholds. The physiological measurements and clinically assessed tone were both valid and reproducible, indicating that they can be used to evaluate the long-term effects of therapeutic intervention. However, results of the correlational study indicated that the severity of spasticity may not be fully described by static reflex measurements alone.

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Correspondence to Christina Hui-Chan.

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Levin, M.F., Hui-Chan, C. Are H and stretch reflexes in hemiparesis reproducible and correlated with spasticity?. J Neurol 240, 63–71 (1993). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00858718

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Key words

  • Spasticity
  • Measurement
  • Reflex function
  • Hemiparesis
  • Reproducibility