Children's Hospital Colorado

Spasticity and Tone Abnormalities

What are the types of tone abnormalities?

  • Spasticity: stiffness or increased tone (described in more detail below)
  • Dystonia: fluctuating tone with involuntary movements
  • Ataxia: tremors and poor control of direction, grading and timing of movements
  • Hypotonia: decreased tone or "floppiness"

What is spasticity?

Simply put, spastic muscles are tense and resist movement. Children with spasticity are usually described as stiff, and muscle contractions can happen without voluntary control.

Who gets spasticity and can it be prevented?

Spasticity is a type of increased tone that can be a long-term effect of conditions where the brain and/or spinal cord are damaged or fail to develop normally. These conditions include:

There is no cure for spasticity and it cannot be prevented. However, it can be well managed with the proper combination of physical and occupational therapy, medications, injections or surgery.

How does spasticity relate to cerebral palsy?

Spasticity is a common symptom found in kids and adults with cerebral palsy (CP). Spasticity can be difficult to control in children with CP and interferes with movement by affecting smoothness, speed, range of motion and a variety of movement patterns.

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