There has been no way to predict which patients with complete spinal cord injuries are able to regain partial motor function. Until now.
A recent study explored the possibility that spasticity could be a clue to predicting some types of lost motor recovery. There had long been a theory that the level of spasticity could be a marker that predicts how much motor recovery is possible. The idea was that patients with spasticity show some preservation of descending motor pathways that carry the signal from the brain to muscles and could therefore attain more movement.
Researchers did find that there is a link between spasticity and positive recovery outcomes after complete spinal cord injuries. Recognizing that spasticity indicates the chance of good progress can help tailor rehabilitation programs to the individual patient.
By contrast, individuals with incomplete spinal cord injuries showed a different pattern and often a more difficult motor recovery. That’s because incomplete injuries may be multifaceted, involving a combination of neural plasticity, individual differences, and the specific nature and location of the incomplete injury. Unlike complete injuries, where the loss of voluntary motor control is more uniform, incomplete injuries present a spectrum of functional impairment, making prediction and rehabilitation more intricate and challenging.
To read the complete report in The Annals of Neurology click here.