Objective: Spasticity is common after spinal cord injury (SCI). Exaggerated tendon jerks, clonus, and spasms are key features of spasticity that result from hyperexcitability of the stretch reflex circuit. Here we studied the effects of vibration on the rectus femoris muscle (RF) on clinical and electrophysiological measures of spasticity in the leg. Methods: Nineteen SCI patients with spasticity and nine healthy subjects were studied at baseline and under stimulation (vibration at 50. Hz during 10. min on the thigh). Neurophysiological studies included evaluation of the soleus T wave and Hmax/Mmax ratio. Clinical measurements of spasticity were the score in the Modified Ashworth Scale (MAS), range of motion (ROM), and duration and frequency of clonus. Results: Patients with incomplete SCI (iSCI) presented higher number of cycles and longer duration of clonus than patients with complete SCI (cSCI). The Hmax/Mmax ratio and T wave amplitude at baseline were significantly larger in iSCI patients than in cSCI or healthy subjects. During vibration, we found a significant reduction of MAS and duration of clonus, and an increase in ROM, in all patients as a group. The Hmax/Mmax ratio and the T wave amplitude decreased significantly in both, patients and controls. Conclusions: Prolonged vibration on proximal lower extremity muscles decreased limb spasticity in patients with spinal cord injury, regardless of whether the lesion is complete or incomplete. Significance: Muscle vibration may be useful for physical therapy, by facilitating passive and active movements of the extremities in spastic SCI patients. © 2010 International Federation of Clinical Neurophysiology.
- Muscle vibration
- Spinal cord injury