Author(s): Urban PP, Wolf T, Uebele M, Marx JJ, Vogt T
There is currently no consensus on (1) the percentage of patients who develop spasticity after ischemic stroke, (2) the relation between spasticity and initial clinical findings after acute stroke, and (3) the impact of spasticity on activities of daily living and health-related quality of life.
In a prospective cohort study, 301 consecutive patients with clinical signs of central paresis due to a first-ever ischemic stroke were examined in the acute stage and 6 months later. At both times, the degree and pattern of paresis and muscle tone, the Barthel Index, and the EQ-5D score, a standardized instrument of health-related quality of life, were evaluated. Spasticity was assessed on the Modified Ashworth Scale and defined as Modified Ashworth Scale >1 in any of the examined joints.
Two hundred eleven patients (70.1%) were reassessed after 6 months. Of these, 42.6% (n=90) had developed spasticity. A more severe degree of spasticity (Modified Ashworth Scale >or=3) was observed in 15.6% of all patients. The prevalence of spasticity did not differ between upper and lower limbs, but in the upper limb muscles, higher degrees of spasticity (Modified Ashworth Scale >or=3) were more frequently (18.9%) observed than in the lower limbs (5.5%). Regression analysis used to test the differences between upper and lower limbs showed that patients with more severe paresis in the proximal and distal limb muscles had a higher risk for developing spasticity (P<or=0.001). Spasticity of the upper and lower limb was more frequent in patients with hemihypesthesia than in patients without sensory deficits (P<or=0.001). Patients with spasticity showed a lower Barthel Index and EQ-5D score compared with the group without spasticity.
Spasticity was present in 42.6% of patients with initial central paresis. However, severe spasticity was relatively rare. Predictors for the development of spasticity were a severe degree of paresis and hemihypesthesia at stroke onset.