Spastic paresis can arise from a variety of conditions, including stroke, spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury and hereditary spastic paraplegia. It is associated with muscle contracture, stiffness and pain, and can lead to segmental deformity. The positive, negative and biomechanical symptoms associated with spastic paresis can significantly affect patients’ quality of life, by affecting their ability to perform normal activities. This paper – based on the content of a global spasticity interdisciplinary masterclass presented by the authors for healthcare practitioners working in the field of spastic paresis – proposes a multidisciplinary approach to care involving not only healthcare practitioners, but also the patient and their family members/carers, and improvement of the transition between specialist care and community services. The suggested treatment pathway comprises assessment of the severity of spastic paresis, early access to neurorehabilitation and physiotherapy and treatment with botulinum toxin and new technologies, where appropriate. To address the challenge of maintaining patients’ motivation over the long term, tailored guided self-rehabilitation contracts can be used to set and monitor therapeutic goals. Current global consensus guidelines may have to be updated, to include a clinical care pathway related to the encompassing management of spastic paresis.
Spastic paresis may be caused by a variety of conditions, including stroke, spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, retroviral and other infectious spinal cord disorders, cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury and hereditary spastic paraplegia.1 The exact prevalence of spastic paresis (in which spasticity is the most commonly recognised manifestation) is not known. However, it is estimated that around 30% of stroke survivors are affected by significant spasticity2 and 50% who present to hospital with stroke develop at least one severe contracture.3
Spastic paresis is a complex condition that may be associated with soft tissue contracture, pain and limitations of day-to-day activities, which have a substantial impact on patients’ and caregivers’ quality of life.4 Although treatment guidelines have been developed for (focal) spasticity,5 there remains a lack of consensus on key aspects of diagnosis, approaches to care and the care pathway that would help healthcare practitioners to more fully understand and manage this condition.
To address some of these limitations, a group of physicians and a physiotherapist with expertise in the management of spastic paresis developed a global spasticity masterclass for healthcare practitioners working in this field in order to share best practices and to discuss issues and current trends in the management of patients with spasticity. The outputs of this masterclass are presented here.
Pathophysiology and definitions
Spasticity is one of several components of spastic paresis, also known as the upper motor neuron (UMN) syndrome. Spastic paresis is primarily characterised by a quantitative lack of command directed to agonist muscles involved in performing movements.1,6,7 In addition, hyperactive spinal reflexes mediate some of the positive phenomena seen in spastic paresis, while other positive symptoms are related to disordered control of voluntary movement in terms of an abnormal efferent drive or are caused