Stories about Spasticity after Brain Injury
The following are stories of real life survivors of brain injury. Clicking on the titles will take you to their actual story.
She receives Botox to help with the spasticity in that hand. She is supposed to get them every three months, but as so often happens, it has been a long time since she had one.
So tell me about your therapy.: “I have some severe spasticity problems in my shoulders and my elbows and so, probably about, 100 days of that, every other day. Speech language, therapy which of course you know runs out pretty quick. So I got involved in a system called interactive metronome, which I’m actually one of the clinicians for now.” So first, let’s speak about spasticity. First question, obvious question, is how could they miss spasticity?; ‘Well, probably because I stopped going to the doctor’s. At a certain point, going to the doctor’s every other day I just, it was enough. I mean, because after the suicidal thing, I thought I better figure this out because they weren’t going to” Let’s, let’s talk about when you say spasticity describe for us exactly what the symptom was.: “Well, I couldn’t put my arm all the way out. In the beginning it was in a sling but, I could never fully extend it. I still have, like I’m noticing when I play football or something, I notice it still kind of hurts in here. They think there’s some calcium on there. But if I have that done I’m going to go to Mexico and have the work done.”
Would that explain why they didn’t see the spasticity in your arm and shoulder?: “Oh yeah, because the ribs, they just thought it was pretty natural. It really didn’t dominate because I was too sore to really move much for a month or two. Yeah, it was amazing, they said, that I didn’t have more damage by the vehicle because again you could see where my head was and it’s just, it was amazing.” What did they do for the spasticity?: “They did some Botox shots which was the first thing that really, really helped because it was too painful to even really move my arms. The Botox made it so that I could do some of the physical therapies. And the bands, the band therapy, I actually went outside of my network because, obviously my wife worked in the physical therapy department, so I went into another network and paid or it out of pocket at that point.”
The biggest limitation that Doug has with his left arm, his whole left side is spasticity. Spasticity means the inability of a muscle to relax (as if it was in a permanent cramp.) People with spasticity have increased muscle tone (meaning the muscles won’t relax) a condition also called hypertonia, an unusual “tightness” of muscles. Cortical (brain related) spasticity usually manifests as dystonic posturing and hemiplegia; spinal spasticity typically involves spasticity found in the antigravity muscles, that is, flexor muscles in the arms and extensor muscles in the legs. Cortical spasticity applies to lesions within the brain; spinal spasticity is indicative of spinal pathology.It’s basically you’re like â€“ if you get a build up in your muscles and it builds up to start shaking. At night because I wear a knee brace at night to help keep my legs straight and I usually will take it off in the middle of the night because I don’t need it. I’ll take it off, but in the morning if I try to stretch out my leg, my leg will, start shaking really hard. It will be just shaking and that’s usually the spasticity. Or like sometimes in my arm, if I get up in the morning, the first time I get up my arm will just start shaking real hard.
Doug talks about the spasticity he has on the left side of his body and the various treatments he has received for it. Spasticity is increased tension in a muscle which leads to an inability to relax. (It can result from problems in the brain (cortical spasticity) or from problems originating in the spine (spinal spasticity). Spasticity gives rise to increased muscle tone (hypertonia) and a cramping of the muscles as one tries to stretch them. Botox and Baclofen are two drugs used to treat spasticity. Doug is currently being treated with the Baclofen pump, which automatically dispenses the drug into his system so that he doesn’t have to take so many pills. Doug reports better results with the Baclofen pump in treating his spasticity.
What do you understand to be the cause of the spasticity you had in that left arm?: “The only thing I could come up with and this is, like I said from what my dad told me, is how the angle of the vehicle hit and how hit my head.”
Spasticity?: “Yes. In the State of Florida you’re allowed 45 days in the hospital that would be paid for by Medicaid and every year July 1 is when it starts again. So last year she had used up all of her 45 days so we had to wait until now. July 1 we’re going to go have the Baclofen pump but that’s not what people call it. It has another weird name.” Tell me about her spasticity: “Well she is just in pain all the time.” Is her arm up tight to her body?: “No, no. Hers is more, more tone, just cramping I guess is that. But even her right leg will bother her and that’s the one that she can move.”