Quantitative measures of spasticity in post-stroke patients

Fabrizio Pisano, Giacinta Miscio, Carmen Del Conte, Danilo Pianca, Elisa Candeloro, Roberto Colombo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Quantitative evaluation of muscle tone in post-stroke patients; correlation of biomechanical indices with conventional clinical scales and neurophysiological measures; characterization of passive and neural components of muscle tone. Methods: Mechanical stretches of the wrist flexor muscles of 53 post-stroke patients were imposed by means of a torque motor at constant speed. Patients were clinically studied using the Ashworth scale for spasticity and the Medical Research Council score for residual muscle strength. The neurophysiological measures were Hoffmann reflex latency, Hmax/Mmax ratio, stretch reflex threshold speed (SRTS), stretch reflex (SR) latency and area, passive (ISI) and total (TSI) stiffness indices. Results: Hmax/Mmax ratio, SR area, ISI and TSI values were significantly higher in patients, while SRTS was significantly lower. TSI, SRTS and SR area were highly correlated to the Ashworth score. Conclusions: This EMG-biomechanical technique allows an objective evaluation of changes in muscle tone in post-stroke patients, providing easily measurable, quantitative indices of muscle stiffness. The linear distribution of these measures is particularly indicated for monitoring changes induced by treatment. The apparatus seems suitable to characterize neural stiffness, while difficulties were found in isolating the passive components, because of the occurrence of tonic EMG activity in most spastic patients. Copyright (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Ireland Ltd.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1015-1022
Number of pages8
JournalClinical Neurophysiology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 2000


  • Electromyography
  • H reflex
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Spasticity
  • Stretch reflex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Neurology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Physiology (medical)


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