Prevalence of spasticity in humans with spinal cord injury with different injury severity

Sina Sangari, Monica A. Perez*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Spasticity is one of the most common symptoms manifested following spinal cord injury (SCI). The aim of this study was to assess spasticity in individuals with subacute and chronic SCI with different injury severity, standardizing the time and assessments of spasticity. We tested 110 individuals with SCI classified by the American Spinal Injury Association Impairment Scale (AIS) as either motor complete (AIS A and B; subacute, n = 25; chronic, n = 33) or motor incomplete (AIS C and D; subacute, n = 23; chronic, n = 29) at a similar time after injury (subacute, ∼1 mo after injury during inpatient rehabilitation and chronic, ≥1 yr after injury) using clinical (modified Ashworth scale) and kinematic (pendulum test) outcomes to assess spasticity in the quadriceps femoris muscle. Using both methodologies, we found that among individuals with subacute motor complete injuries, only a minority showed spasticity, whereas the majority exhibited no spasticity. This finding stands in contrast to individuals with subacute motor incomplete injury, where both methodologies revealed that a majority exhibited spasticity, whereas a minority exhibited no spasticity. In chronic injuries, most individuals showed spasticity regardless of injury severity. Notably, when spasticity was present, its magnitude was similar across injury severity in both subacute and chronic injuries. Our results suggest that the prevalence, not the magnitude, of spasticity differs between individuals with motor complete and incomplete SCI in the subacute and chronic stages of the injury. We thus argue that considering the “presence of spasticity” might help the stratification of participants with motor complete injuries for clinical trials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)470-479
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of neurophysiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2022


  • chronic SCI
  • inpatient rehabilitation
  • muscle spasticity
  • subacute SCI
  • time after SCI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Physiology


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