Clinical assessment of spasticity

  • M. R. Dimitrijevic


Spasticity and rigidity are common neurological findings in movement disorders, and share the characteristic clinical feature of increased muscle tone. In clinical neurology, spasticity is described as increased resistance to passive movement due to a lower threshold of tonic and phasic stretch reflexes (Holmes 1946). Rigidity is a more uniform and continuous resistance of muscle to passive stretching. Unlike spasticity, rigidity is a condition in which muscle tone is increased in both agonist and antagonist muscle groups, and muscle stiffness is manifest throughout the entire range of movements. Two types of rigidity can be distinguished: the plastic type, in which resistance to passive movement is smooth, such as that experienced in bending a piece of lead; and “cogwheel rigidity”, when tremor is superimposed on muscle stiffness.


Muscle Tone Passive Movement Muscle Stiffness Muscle Stretch Stretch Reflex 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Wien 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. R. Dimitrijevic
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Restorative Neurology and Human NeurobiologyBaylor College of MedicineHoustonUSA

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