Neurophysiological methods for the assessment of spasticity: The Hoffmann reflex, the tendon reflex, and the stretch reflex


Voerman, G.E. and Gregoric, M. and Hermens, H.J. (2005) Neurophysiological methods for the assessment of spasticity: The Hoffmann reflex, the tendon reflex, and the stretch reflex. Disability and Rehabilitation, 27 (1/2). pp. 33-68. ISSN 0963-8288

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Abstract:Purpose: To review the literature concerning neurophysiological methods to assess spasticity with respect to mechanisms and methodology, and to describe the three most commonly used methods: the Hoffmann reflex (H-reflex), the Tendon reflex (T-reflex), and the Stretch Reflex (SR).
Method: A systematic internet database search was performed to identify neurophysiological measurement methods of spasticity. A systematic exclusion procedure resulted in 185 included references, completed by additional informal search. For this paper, information about the H-, T- and stretch reflexes was extracted from these references.
Results: Although the reflexes are basically monosynaptic, there are many supraspinal pathways which modulate the responses in terms of their amplitude and latency. As a consequence the methods are sensitive to a considerable number of experimental conditions and are characterized by a moderate reliability and sensitivity. Correlations with other (i.e. biomechanical, neurophysiological or clinical) spasticity assessment parameters are moderate to poor. Standardised and broadly accepted protocols are still largely lacking preventing an effective exchange of knowledge.
Conclusions: The clinical and experimental use of the three methods is restricted due to moderate reliability and sensitivity. It is recommended to perform combined neurophysiological – biomechanical assessment of spasticity during active, functional movement.
Item Type:Article
Additional information:This project was undertaken within the European Thematic Network SPASM (Support Programme for the Assembly of database for Spasticity Measure- ment), proposal no QLTR 2000-00818.
Copyright:© 2005 Taylor & Francis
Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science (EEMCS)
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