Measurement of plantarflexor spasticity in traumatic brain injury: Correlational study of resistance torque compared with the modified Ashworth scale

Thiru Annaswamy, Srinivas Mallempati, Stephen C. Allison, Lawrence D. Abraham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVES: To examine the usefulness of a biomechanical measure, resistance torque (RT), in quantifying spasticity by comparing its use with a clinical scale, the modified Ashworth scale (MAS), and quantitative electrophysiological measures. DESIGN: This is a correlational study of spasticity measurements in 34 adults with traumatic brain injury and plantarflexor spasticity. Plantarflexor spasticity was measured in the seated position before and after cryotherapy using the MAS and also by strapping each subject's foot and ankle to an apparatus that provided a ramp and hold stretch. The quantitative measures were (1) reflex threshold angle (RTA) calculated through electromyographic signals and joint angle traces, (2) Hdorsiflexion (Hdf)/Hcontrol (Hctrl) amplitude ratio obtained through reciprocal inhibition of the soleus H-reflex, (3) Hvibration (Hvib)/Hctrl ratio obtained through vibratory inhibition of the soleus H-reflex, and (4) RT calculated as the time integral of the torque graph between the starting and ending pulses of the stretch. RESULTS: Correlation coefficients between RT and MAS scores in both pre-ice (0.41) and post-ice trials (0.42) were fair (P = 0.001). The correlation coefficients between RT scores and RTA scores in both the pre-ice (0.66) and post-ice trials (0.75) were moderate (P ≤ 0.001). CONCLUSION: RT is a measure of the cumulative torque during an imposed stretch. The MAS is a subjective measure of the cumulative resistance perceived by the clinician during an imposed stretch. RT seems to be a fair quantitative correlate of the MAS in assessing spasticity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)404-411
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2007



  • Biomechanics
  • Brain Injury
  • Measurement
  • Reflex
  • Spasticity
  • Stretch

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation

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