Previous studies of stretch reflexes in patients with spastic hypertonia have emphasized the dynamic character of stretch reflex output. In contrast, our own studies of stretch reflex dynamics in spastic elbow flexor muscles of 14 hemiparetic human subjects have shown that stretch‐evoked torque displays a relatively weak dependence on stretch velocity, and there is generally no preferential enhancement of dynamic as compared with static reflex output. Moreover, stretch reflex dynamics are broadly similar in voluntarily activated spastic and normal elbow flexor muscles. These findings support our hypothesis that spastic hypertonia results primarily from a decrease in stretch reflex threshold. The strong velocity dependence of stretch‐evoked electromyographic activity in initially inactive spastic muscles could be due to a decrease in reflex threshold with increasing stretch velocity, rather than an abnormal velocity‐dependent increase in stretch reflex responsiveness.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology