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Spasticity Treatments After Stroke-Part 1 of 3

Occupational Therapy Options To Treat Spasticity After Stroke

Occupational Therapy recommendations are often, but not always, in conjunction with other intervention such as a spasticity reduction and/ or orthopedic surgery. The occupational therapy services in the community are often recommended to address upper extremity impairment, difficulty with self care skills (such as dressing and self feeding) and/or visual motor delay. The OT can also address any oral motor/feeding issues at the evaluation. Specific OT recommendations that can be made are as follows:

Splinting – Patients with range of motion (ROM) limitations may benefit from splinting such as a resting hand split or an elbow split to preserve the ROM available. Splints can be fabricated from a low temperature plastic or can be a soft splint made from neoprene.

Serial Casting - This is more commonly used in patients who need to gain ROM in the lower extremities but can also be used in the upper extremities, most often to gain elbow extension. Typically, a cast is placed on the arm at the maximum or near maximum position that can be achieved. The cast is changed weekly with the hope of increasing range of motion each week for approximately 3-4 weeks.

Constraint Induced Therapy – This involved restraining the strong arm for brief periods to encourage more voluntary and refined movement in the weaker arm for patients with hemiparesis. A cast or splint is often used to restrain the strong arm and the patient is provided with established activities to do with the weaker arm.

Therapeutic Horseback Riding – This is an excellent activity to improve balance and overall strength. Therapists will ride with a patient (to provide head and/or trunk control) or walk along side the patient who can sit independently on the horse.

Assistive Technology Evaluation – A referral for this type can assist in determining if wheelchair modifications, communication devices, or other adaptive equipment can be utilized to optimize function.

To find an occupational therapist in your area check our directory.

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"Spasticity is stiff or rigid muscles. It may also be called unusual "tightness" or increased muscle tone. Reflexes (for example, a knee-jerk reflex) are stronger or exaggerated. The condition can interfere with walking, movement, or speech. -National Library of Medicine"
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