Spasticity: A Stiff Side Effect of a Brain Injury

Woman suffering from stiff or sore legWhen someone suffers trauma to the brain, it can lead to interrupted signals being sent from the brain to the muscles. As a result, someone may suffer from spasticity in addition to a brain injury. According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, damage to the brain “can cause changes in muscle tone, movement, sensation and reflex.”

What Is Spasticity?

Spasticity is an unfortunate possible side effect of a brain injury. It is defined as a muscle control disorder, which basically means that someone with spasticity isn’t able to fully control his or her muscles. Consequently, a person with spasticity has stiff muscles due to a permanent contraction of the muscle. While someone with spasticity may only feel a mild tightness and discomfort in the muscles, spasticity can be so severe in others that it can cause excruciating pain in their limbs, joints, and back. Although spasticity is usually a tightness in the legs, spasticity and muscle tightness can also occur in the shoulders, elbows, arms, hips, knees, ankles and feet.

Symptoms of Spasticity

In addition to tight and stiff muscles, there are some other symptoms of spasticity including:

  • Uncontrollable muscle spasms. This means that a person will not be able to control certain muscles, leading to involuntary and sudden movements. Not only are these spasms uncontrollable, but they can cause intense pain.
  • Stiff joints. When joints cannot function normally, people will have limited range of motion. When spasticity is so severe or isn’t treated, someone can suffer from frozen or immobilized joints, making it impossible to extend parts of the body all of the way.
  • Abnormalities and poor posture. When spasticity affects the hamstrings and hip flexors, the hips and knees can be difficult if not impossible to straighten. Also, spasticity can lead to a strange positioning of the shoulders, arms, and hands. Consequently, a person will appear to have poor posture as well as suffer from bone and joint deformities.

Because spasticity leads to muscles being continuously contracted causing stiffness, it can interfere with a person’s overall movement. When muscles become too stiff and contract without warning, a person may be unable to walk, move, or even speak. This condition can cause a person the inability to care for themselves, drive, or even work. Sadly, a person with spasticity can suffer from depression and other emotional and physical issues.

Spasticity often requires medications, occupational and physical therapy, and rehabilitation. Sometimes, the use of braces and/or surgery are required. Because getting appropriate medical treatment can be costly and because a change in a person’s overall movement is priceless, it is critical that someone who suffered a brain injury and spasticity as a result of medical malpractice speak with an attorney as soon as possible.

Our law firm finds it rewarding to help victims seek justice, and we will answer your questions in a free consultation. Call us at (703) 591-0067 or order a free copy of our book, Do I Have a Case? A Patient’s Guide to Virginia Medical Negligence Law.