Welcome To The University of Illinois Spasticity Clinic!

As a part of the Neuroscience Clinic, The Spasticity Clinic at the University of Illinois at Chicago provides an interdisciplinary management team for patients suffering from spasticity. The availability of physiatrists, neurologists, neurosurgeons, physical therapists, occupational therapists, orthotists, nurses, and social workers ensures a unique interdisciplinary experience for each patient.

What Is Spasticity?

Spasticity is an impairment resulting from an injury to the brain or spinal cord. Common conditions associated with spasticity include: stroke, brain injury, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury, and cerebral palsy. However, any condition that involves the brain or spinal cord can cause spasticity.

Spasticity is a result of an imbalance of the neurological signals to muscles and tendons that allows them to function properly. As a result, muscles remain persistently overactive or tense. This can cause pain, spasms, decreased movement at or around joints, and decreased fine motor abilities. Left untreated, spasticity can result in joint contractures and skin ulceration. It can also leave patients trapped in postures that make even daily care activities very difficult or impossible for caregivers.

What Does Spasticity Look Like?

Spasticity can affect any joint in the body by causing it to become tight and difficult to move. This often interferes with comfortable positioning, daily living, and hygiene. It often results in common patterns of muscle rigidity in the arms or legs. Here are some examples of how it may affect the arm:

(Photo Credit: http://texasneurology.com/spasticity/)

Why Seek Treatment At The Spasticity Clinic?

The Spasticity Clinic performs a comprehensive evaluation to determine the degree and location of spasticity, the resulting physical limitations, and most importantly the effect it is having on each individual’s life. We assess each patient’s individual situation and preferences to determine the most appropriate treatment plan.

What Treatments Are Available?

  • Physical and occupational therapy works to maximize range of motion and reduce pain. This may include a focus on stretching techniques and optimal postural positioning as well as improving strength and dexterity.
  • Orthotists may provide custom splints or orthotics to help promote functional posture and prevent harmful contractures.
  • Oral medications are used for persistent spasticity or periodic muscle spasm control.
  • Botulinum toxin injections can target individual muscles as specific as a single finger or toe muscle that may need relaxation.
  • Implantable baclofen pumps are used for more severe cases of spasticity affecting the legs or multiple limbs.


Patient Resources

For additional information, please visit any of the following:


National Stroke Association: http://www.stroke.org/we-can-help/survivors/stroke-recovery/post-stroke-conditions/physical/spasticity 

National Multiple Sclerosis Society: http://www.nationalmssociety.org/Symptoms-Diagnosis/MS-Symptoms/Spasticity