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Thread: Now Walking! - Muscle Stiffness Query.

  1. #1
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    Now Walking! - Muscle Stiffness Query.

    Hi all, I posted several weeks ago that my son had a sports accident and as a result had a displaced C4 / C5 disc that compressed his spinal cord (accident Mid July). The disc was removed the day after injury along with spinal a fusion procedure. Although initially he had very little movement (only hand movement at wrists and feet movement at ankles) he had the will and the belief that he could beat it. After a lot of determination, positive attitude and hard work he ended up regaining all function including the ability to walk plus bowel and bladder function. His last ASIA test was 100%. From time of accident to discharge was 8 weeks. We were told the worst but prayed for the best - it looks like our prayers were answered. He was told by his consultant that he's recovery was nothing less than extraordinary but by no means unique. This short resume will hopefully give encouragment and hope to those who have experienced such an injury and feel all is lost and life as you knew it has gone. Albeit there are many who have to adapt to a new way of life it is possible that you will be one of the more fortunate one's even though at this time you feel in despair.

    For all the positive facets of his recovery, there is condition he still endures and I have this question for someone who can inform me first hand as to the reason of this condition ......

    He suffers from muscle stiffness, mainly his thighs, calves and to an extent his fingers (worse when he awakens in the morning but still stays with him all day), and whilst it doesn't stop him walking, nor affects his gait, it's very uncomfortable. He goes to the gym most days and does treadmill and stepper work but as yet it's not improving to any noticable degree. We appreciate that it is still very early days relative to recovery rates for SCI's, and that recoveries do slow down/plateau, however, can somebody inform me the causes for such stiffness after SCI and can it subside with time and excercise.

    May I take this opportunity to thank all those who assisted me with my previous questions and offered their support and encouragment .. you were all very kind

    Dale.
    Last edited by DaleMinton; 10-03-2012 at 03:46 PM.

  2. #2
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    I'm sure one of the nurses will give some input, as for me, just want to give my best wishes to your son and you! He is one of the lucky ones!!!

  3. #3
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    Good for him !!!
    The muscles will probably always be sore mine are 8 1/2 years later, work is the key, don't get idle. Good luck and work at it.

  4. #4
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    Question

    Thanks guy's, what I'd really like to know is what causes the stiffness, it's obviously neurologically driven but from a physiological perspective what is happening to cause it.

    Dale


  5. #5
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    If you find out,,, CALL ME! I can't figure it out after all this time, I get Botox shots from time to time to help with the stiffness. I always thought I was a freak with this. But things are damaged, the best explanation I give is if you take an axe to a christmas tree with lights, individually wired and whack it, some work, and some don't. People seem to understand that, than it makes a lot of sense to them.

  6. #6
    Almost everyone with SCI suffers from stiffness, tone and spasticity (to some extent), even when they regain the capacity to walk - the muscles are constantly sending signals to contract, and because of a feedback loop in the neurological network, the countervening message to relax doesn't get received. Why that should be, I don't know. But without consistent daily stretching, I would be a tin man...and even with it, I am almost stiff as a board.

    It's wonderful that your son has had so much return of function. He might have to get used to the stiffness, or maybe meds can help...but to be able to have most of his physical capacities back is awesome!

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by alhavel View Post
    If you find out,,, CALL ME! I can't figure it out after all this time, I get Botox shots from time to time to help with the stiffness. I always thought I was a freak with this. But things are damaged, the best explanation I give is if you take an axe to a christmas tree with lights, individually wired and whack it, some work, and some don't. People seem to understand that, than it makes a lot of sense to them.

    Great analogy, luv it! ... take care.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bonnette View Post
    Almost everyone with SCI suffers from stiffness, tone and spasticity (to some extent), even when they regain the capacity to walk - the muscles are constantly sending signals to contract, and because of a feedback loop in the neurological network, the countervening message to relax doesn't get received. Why that should be, I don't know. But without consistent daily stretching, I would be a tin man...and even with it, I am almost stiff as a board.

    It's wonderful that your son has had so much return of function. He might have to get used to the stiffness, or maybe meds can help...but to be able to have most of his physical capacities back is awesome!

    Thanks, that info was very illuminating, we'll hope that the his neurological .. synaptic .. dendrite .. neuronal feedback loops improve, AND YOURS ALSO! god bless and thanks again.

    Dale

  9. #9
    Thank you, Dale! Good wishes gratefully received and entirely reciprocated!

  10. #10
    While not unheard of, AIS E injuries (where the person was initially paralyzed, and then gets full motor and sensory return) is rare. The person may still have spasticity and abnormal deep tendon reflexes and be considered an AIS E.

    Just be clear though, he was lucky. That much return does not come from hard work, a good or positive attitude, and/or wishing hard enough to get return. It does not come from being a better person, or praying harder, or a stronger belief in God. To say so is a slap in the face to those on these forums who are not lucky enough to get that much (or any) return. They did not get return because they were not good people, or because they did not work hard, or did not deserve it, or did not want it badly enough. They were not as lucky.

    Is your son taking any medications for his spasticity? Baclofen or similar drugs may be helpful, but have to be very carefully titrated as they can also make strong voluntary muscles weak, and can interfere with ambulation if he is depending upon some of that "stiffness" (hypertonicity) to maintain his stance or gait. It will be important to work closely on proper dosing and medication selection with input from both his SCI physician and physical therapist.

    (KLD)

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