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Spasticity (Pediatric)

Make an appointment. Call (212) 305-3535.

What is spasticity?

Spasticity refers to muscles that are tight, stiff, contracted, painful, and difficult to stretch. This condition is caused by an imbalance of signals from brain or spinal cord to the muscles.

Spasticity results in pain, decreased range of motion, and contractures that limit children's mobility and quality of life. Dressing, bathing, and moving children with spasticity can be difficult for parents.

How is spasticity diagnosed?

Our doctors evaluate children to determine the cause of their muscle stiffness and make sure it relates to a brain or spinal cord injury. Next we check for any problems pertaining to spastic muscles, such as severe constipation or urine retention. These problems cause discomfort and worsen the spasticity. When they're resolved, children sometimes improve without the need for further treatment.

What is the treatment for spasticity?

Our rehabilitation team shapes the treatments based on each patient's needs and carefully integrates these various approaches:

  • braces
  • casting
  • ethanol or Botox injections to alleviate tight muscles
  • intrathecal baclofen pump to deliver medication directly to the spinal cord
  • oral medications to control spasticity
  • physical therapy
  • selective dorsal rhizotomy, a surgery followed by intensive therapy, tendon transfer, or lengthening

Our physiatrists carefully coordinate many different aspects of care to ensure children are comfortable and able to function at the highest level. Our integrated approach to spasticity in children is critical. Frequent growth spurts are often accompanied by worsening symptoms. Our comprehensive care provides optimal results.