In medicine and health related fields, a common language and set of criteria to assess and describe diseases, syndromes, spectra, and symptoms is imperative for relating patient data between providers and parties with an interest in a patient’s care. This facilitates accurate communication for monitoring and documenting progress or decline, relaying instructions to health care personnel, and for determining health care benefits.
The term spasticity, while widely used to describe symptoms associated with stroke [cerebrovascular accident (CVA) or cerebrovascular insult (CVI)], spinal cord injury (SCI), multiple sclerosis (MS) and other diseases, is not clearly defined and is often used as a shorthand for a host of symptoms including hyperreflexia, hypertonia, clonus, or others. This lack of clear definitions and vocabulary can lead to the inability to precisely communicate a patient’s symptoms between those with an interest in the patient’s health.
While we had hoped to define a vocabulary and submit it for publication, in researching the issue we found several groups had already tackled this issue and published their results. Like many professions, healthcare and rehabilitation are large ships with small rudders and change comes about slowly. Hopefully, the work done by these groups will eventually be incorporated into daily practice by clinicians and therapists.