Time course of the effect of a bolus dose of intrathecal baclofen on severe cerebral spasticity
OBJECTIVE To establish (1) whether associated reactions could contribute to contracture formation and (2) whether the presence of spasticity was essential for their expression, after stroke. SUBJECTS Subjects were 24 hemiparetics within 13 months of a stroke, unselected for contracture or spasticity. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES Associated reactions were identified by the presence of muscle activity in the affected biceps brachii and quantified as the amount of affected elbow flexor torque produced during a moderate contraction of either the contralateral biceps brachii or the contralateral quadriceps muscles. Contracture was measured as loss of elbow joint range of motion and spasticity as the presence of abnormal reflex activity. RESULTS Associated reactions were present in at least one testing condition in seven subjects. During contractions of the contralateral biceps brachii, the median amount of elbow flexor torque produced was 0.39 (interquartile range, IQR 2.5) Nm while during contractions of the contralateral quadriceps muscle it was 0.19 (IQR 1.6) Nm. Associated reactions were not associated with contracture (p = 0.39) which was present in over half of the subjects. The incidence of associated reactions was about the same as that of spasticity, but the two were not related (p = 0.61). CONCLUSIONS Even though associated reactions were present in 29% of the subjects during moderate contraction of the contralateral muscles, they were not large, nor were they associated with contracture or spasticity, suggesting that this phenomenon is not usually a major problem for everyday function after stroke.