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sevenfourteen's avatar

What is the difference between muscle spacticity and rigidity?

Asked by sevenfourteen (2419points) March 2nd, 2010

I’m an occupational therapy student and my neurobehaviors class deals a lot with the both of these. I can’t understand the difference though.

So far I’ve gotten that spasticity can be seen if you try to move a limb too quickly, causes a scissoring gait, and is stiffening/hypertone. I’ve got basically the same thing for rigidity: hypertonicity and that it’s both flexors AND extensors. Also different types include decerebrate or decorticate (if there are other types we haven’t learned them yet so I don’t think I need to know anything beyond that). But are both decerebrate and decorticate ONLY because of lesions to the cortex? Or does this include basal ganglia rigidty as well?

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5 Answers

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

I think that spacticity is typified by spasms and lack of control, while rigidity is the inability to move quickly or with normal strength. But then if you’re studying OT, you should know more than me.

snugbug's avatar

Well considering my 12 year old daughter has right side hemipherisis due to a TBI from being struck by an SUV in May I have some knowledge in this. She gets spastic when her nervous system can’t control her limb. This is increased with fatigue or external stimuli like a cold shower. Her right leg will shake rapidly she can stop it by putting her hand on it. The muscles are weak and the brain has been insulted that is usually a main cause. Rigidity which she has in her right arm leaves it very tight it is actually hard to the touch they refer to it as ” increased tone” also a result of the brain being insulted. She has had Botox to her flexors and and extensors in her arm. She alsohad Botox to her leg. She is currently doing p.t. and o.t 2times a week.

sevenfourteen's avatar

Thank you both, I’m still trying to understand the complexity of the brain- and boy is it ever complex. I think the only way to really know the difference is to see it which I will get to do during clinicals.

@snugbug thanks for sharing, it’s great to hear that your daughter is doing therapy… especially with an ot :)

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@sevenfourteen The brain is far more complex than most people are able to imagine. I started a module on brain imaging yesterday, and even at this early stage it is a little daunting. Clinical placements will do you a lot of good, and you will probably learn more there than you do in classes. Relying on the observations of other people to learn from is never as good as making your own observations and beginning to interact with the patients.

Pandora's avatar

Not exactly sure this will help but try this link. link

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