This brochure offers helpful tips about treatments. As a result. . Each year more than 750. home adaptations and lifestyle changes that may increase your safety and ability to move around easier.Moving around safely and easily is not something you may think about. many of these survivors have paralysis and/or balance problems.000 Americans suffer strokes. Statistics show that 40 percent of all stroke survivors suffer serious falls within a year after their stroke. until you have had a stroke.

fingers or legs.Frequent repositioning of body parts. a tight fist or a pointed foot that interferes with walking. Treatment Options Treatment for spasticity is often a mix of therapies and drugs. It primarily affects the arms. It’s important to note that all therapies and drugs have potential risks and side effects. It can also be accompanied by painful muscle spasms. This approach is used to achieve the best results possible. This damage can cause an arm or leg to become paralyzed and/or to develop spasticity. • Stretching Spasticity treatment often includes: . signals from the brain to the muscles often don’t work right. stiff and resist being stretched.Understanding Paralysis and Spasticity Paralysis is the inability of a muscle or group of muscles to move on their own. Be sure to weigh the risks and side effects against the benefits. This is due to stroke damage to the brain. Ask your doctor about the best treatment options for your needs. After a stroke.Gentle stretching of tighter muscles . Spasticity is a condition where the muscles are tight. a stiff knee. .Full range-of-motion exercises at least three times a day . It can result in an arm being pressed against the chest.

.Dantrolene sodium (Dantrium®) acts directly on the muscle by blocking the signals that cause muscles to contract.• Oral Medicines There are many medicines that treat the general effects of spasticity.Benzodiazepines (Valium® and Klonopin®) are a group of drugs that act on the central nervous system to relax muscles and temporarily decrease spasticity. tightness and improves range of motion. Tizanidine has been shown to decrease spasticity without a loss in muscle strength. . . .Baclofen – oral baclofen acts on the central nervous system to relax muscles. The use of Dantrolene can lessen muscle tone. treatment should be saved for activities and times when relief is most important. . pain. These drugs act on multiple muscle groups in the body.Tizanidine (Zanaflex Capsules ™) is a drug that temporarily reduces spasticity by blocking nerve impulses. It also decreases the rate of muscle spasms. Due to the short period of time the drug is effective.

However.• Injections Injections of botulinum toxin (Botox® or Myobloc®) relax stiff muscles by blocking the chemicals that make them tight. A single shot of Botox usually takes full effect within two to four weeks after injection. nausea and headache. possible side effects may include drowsiness. The pump constantly delivers small doses of medicine. • Intrathecal Medication Intrathecal baclofen™ (ITB) therapy delivers Lioresal Intrathecal®. directly into the spinal fluid. a burning/tingling sensation and swelling of the injected area. Phenol gets rid of the nerve pathways that are involved with spasticity of a specific muscle group. . But. Another shot that can temporarily control and provide relief for spasticity is phenol. when side effects are present they may include mild soreness where you received the shot and a lack of energy. a liquid form of the drug baclofen. Treatment may need to be repeated as often as every three months. The relief provided by phenol can last from six to 36 months. A programmable pump is surgically placed just below the skin near the abdomen. This helps control side effects to other areas of the body. Side effects may include pain during injection. Side effects are minimal because the drug is delivered to only those areas affected by the stroke and does not circulate throughout the body. The benefit of using phenol is that you see the effects right away. These shots target only specific limbs or muscle groups affected by spasticity. Botox® was recently approved by the Federal Drug Administration for use in patients experiencing upper limb post-stroke spasticity.

Surgery may block pain and restore some movement. These changes can make your home safe to move around in and allow you to regain some independence. But with some simple changes. Not all treatments are suitable for everyone.• Surgery Surgery is the last option to treat spasticity. . fears can be overcome and recovery improved. Your doctor will also help you understand how much medicine you need and the side effects. by looking at the extent of the problems. Safety at Home Managing life at home after a stroke may make some stroke survivors and their caregivers uneasy. Surgery can be done on the brain or the muscles and joints. individual symptoms and personal lifestyle goals. Doctors will try to tailor spasticity treatments to each person.

bedroom and bathroom • Wear non-skid shoes and avoid slick surfaces • Remove loose carpets and runners in hallways and stairwells. may provide further safety and allow for easier movement around the home. such as grab bars and ramps. Or fasten them with non-skid tape to improve traction • Install handrails for support in going up and down stairs Modifying your home with assistive devices.The following tips may help you avoid falling and injuring yourself at home: • Clear paths to the kitchen. These devices may be useful: • Raised toilet seat • Tub bench • Hand-held showerhead • Plastic strips that adhere to the bottom of a tub or shower • Long handled brushes and washing mitts with pockets for soap • Electric toothbrushes and razors .

Foot drop is a common problem during stroke recovery.Movement Aids Braces. The AFO is placed below the knee and supports the ankle and foot. including proper fit and maintenance. A physical therapist or orthotist can suggest the appropriate device. . This condition is caused by weak leg muscles that cause the ankle to drop down when lifting a leg to take a step. canes. It may cause a person to trip and fall if the foot and ankle are not supported by a brace at all times. Other variations and adjustments can be made to braces to fit specific needs. Be sure to use the braces or other devices exactly as recommended by a therapist. Understanding safety procedures and proper use of orthotics. Support adjustments on the AFO can also influence knee movement. This type of brace comes in many styles and can also be customized. The most common brace for this problem is an ankle-foot orthosis (AFO). is essential. walkers and wheelchairs may also help stroke survivors gain strength and move about more freely.

. You can also prevent falls by: • Remaining active • Strengthening leg muscles and balance through weight training or tai chi classes • Wearing flat. wide-toed shoes • Eating calcium-rich foods and taking calcium supplements. if necessary to increase bone strength • Following your therapists’ recommendations about limitations and walking needs • Not relying on furniture for support while walking.Lifestyle Can Affect Safe Movement Lifestyle changes to diet and exercise should be tailored to meet a person’s individual needs. poor vision. Listen to the advice of doctors and experienced caregivers. Weak leg muscles. and taking precautions • Limiting walking when distracted • Never walking without prescribed aids such as braces or canes Be on the safe side and don’t take chances. Use the assistive device prescribed by your therapist • Recognizing that certain medicines may make you drowsy. Regaining independence requires patience. dizziness and medicines that may compromise balance and put people at higher risk for falls.

Sponsored by a grant from Acorda Therapeutics .For more information and to support National Stroke Association in our fight against stroke. please call 1-800-STROKES (800-787-6537) or visit www.org.stroke.

Ste.org BE1 5/07 NSA Publications are reviewed for scientific and medical accuracy by the NSA Publications Committee.stroke.National Stroke Association 9707 E. © 2007 National Stroke Association . B Centennial. CO 80112-3747 1-800-STROKES (800-787-6537) www. Easter Lane.

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