What is Spasticity?
Updated: May 28, 2020
And why working on fascia helps to reduce it.
If your child’s muscles are tight, chances are your child has spasticity.
Spasticity is a form of hypertonia (high muscle tone). It refers to a condition in which the muscles are tight and especially sensitive to being stretched. The reflexes (those that your doctor tests with the little hammer) are too reactive and if you try to move the limb too fast, it becomes even tighter.
Spasticity is caused by a lesion of the upper motor neuron. This means an event injures the brain or spinal cord. This alters the mechanisms that regulate muscle tone.
Spasticity is usually seen not only in cerebral palsy, but also in spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, stroke, traumatic brain injuries, etc.
Lately, we have learned new information about fascia and biotensegrity that helps us understand the mechanisms that regulate muscle tone. There are many factors to consider and still some unknown processes, but we want to share 3 main concepts that are key when helping your child with spasticity*:
Fascia’s role in the neural modulation of muscles tone: The receptors that send the signals to the brain (sensory input) to inform how tight or loose the muscles are, are embedded in the fascia. Any restriction in the fascia might impact that signal “confusing” the brain with inadequate information.
Fascia and the lubrication that allows proper gliding: There is a substance in the fascia known as hyaluronic acid that behaves as a non-Newtonian fluid (like cornstarch mixed with water). Lack of movement makes this fluid more viscous or thick, compromising how the muscle fibers glide.
Biotensegrity explains that if the structure lacks the proper tension, then your child would use muscle tone to create the tension needed (remember the example of the tents). This could explain why kids use their muscle tone (tighten the arms, fists, feet, etc.) when trying to stabilize while performing any function.
* Stecco, A., Stecco, C. & Raghavan, P. Peripheral Mechanisms Contributing to Spasticity and Implications for Treatment. Curr Phys Med Rehabil Rep 2, 121–127 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40141-014-0052-3
WeFlow´s tip for you!
You can use a soft DIY fascia roller to work on your child’s fascia and keep the fluids moving. We have a free tutorial on how to build the roller, how to use it and where to help relax tight muscles. Have access here https://www.weflowtherapy.com/diy-fascia-roller