the study, muscle tone in the wrist, fingers, thumb, and elbow was markedly improved from baseline, and was sustained throughout the study. The study also measured functional disability in four areas: hygiene, dressing, limb posture and pain. Before the first treatment, patients selected an area that was most important to them. On a four-point scale that ranged from "no disability" to "severe disability," at least 50 percent of patients achieved a 1-point or greater improvement in the area they targeted.
"If it isn't managed effectively, post-stroke spasticity can result in very disabling complications such as contractures, a condition that leaves the muscles and tendons permanently shortened," said Brashear. "Early intervention with effective therapies is absolutely vital to prevent the profound disability that afflicts many stroke patients, and to lessen the emotional and financial toll on caregivers and the health care system as a whole."
The study found that adverse events related to treatment, such as headache, pain in the arm, or an influenza-like illness, were reported in 7 percent of patients. Brashear said these results show that the treatment is safe and well-tolerated in post-stroke patients and may represent a significant advantage over many oral anti-spasticity medications.
"Such drugs are associated with a high incidence of systemic effects such as sedation, mental confusion, dizziness and muscle weakness, all of which can seriously hinder rehabilitation after a stroke," she said.
Every year, about 700,000 Americans suffer a new or recurring stroke. Stroke is a leading cause of serious, long-term disability in the United States, and it is estimated that the costs associated with lost productivity due to stroke-related disability will total $21.8 billion in 2005.
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Contact: Karen Richardson
Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center
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