Content » Vol 52, Issue 3

Original report

Impact of spasticity on functioning in spinal cord injury: an application of graphical modelling

Cristina Ehrmann, Seyed Mahdi Mahmoudi, Birgit Prodinger, Carlotte Kiekens, Per Ertzgaard
Swiss Paraplegic Research, Nottwil, Switzerland. E-mail: cristina.bostan@paraplegie.ch
DOI: 10.2340/16501977-2657

Abstract

Objective: To identify the impact of moderate-to-severe spasticity on functioning in people living with spinal cord injury.
Design: Secondary analysis of cross-sectional survey data using graphical modelling.
Subjects: Individuals (n = 1,436) with spinal cord injury aged over 16 years with reported spasticity problems.
Methods: Spasticity and 13 other impairments in body functions were assessed using the spinal cord injury Secondary Conditions Scale. Impairments in mental functions were assessed using the Mental Health subscale of the 36-item Short Form (SF-36). Independence in activities was measured with the Spinal Cord Injury Independence Measure Self-Report. Restrictions in participation were measured with the Utrecht Scale for Evaluation Rehabilitation – Participation.
Results: Fifty-one percent of participants reported moderate-to-severe spasticity. Graphical modelling showed that Chronic pain, Contractures, Tiredness, Doing housework, and Respiratory functions were associated with spasticity and were the top 5 potential targets for interventions to improve the experience of spasticity. The associations and intervention targets were dependent on the level and completeness of the lesion.
Conclusion: This is the first application of graphical modelling in studying spasticity in people living with spinal cord injury. The results can be used as a basis for studies aiming to optimize rehabilitation interventions in people with moderate-to-severe spasticity.

Lay Abstract

Spasticity is one of the most common complications of spinal cord injury. It influences limitations in functioning. Comprehensive evidence on the impact of spasticity on all domains of functioning may be beneficial to optimize rehabilitation interventions aimed at reducing the effects of spasticity. This is the first application of graphical modelling to study and visualize the impact of moderate-to-severe spasticity on functioning in people living with spinal cord injury. The results show that chronic pain, contractures, tiredness, doing housework, and respiratory functions were the functioning domains associated with spasticity. These are therefore the top 5 potential targets for interventions to improve the experience of spasticity. In addition, the level and completeness of lesions should be considered when studying spasticity in relation to all domains of functioning. These results should be used as a basis for studies aiming to optimize rehabilitation interventions in people with moderate-to-severe spasticity.

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