Quantifying spasticity in individual muscles using shear wave elastography

Sarah F. Eby, Heng Zhao, Pengfei Song, Barbara J. Vareberg, Randall R. Kinnick, James F. Greenleaf, Kai Nan An, Allen W. Brown, Shigao Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Spasticity is common following stroke; however, high subject variability and unreliable measurement techniques limit research and treatment advances. Our objective was to investigate the use of shear wave elastography (SWE) to characterize the spastic reflex in the biceps brachii during passive elbow extension in an individual with spasticity. The patient was a 42-year-old right-hand-dominant male with history of right middle cerebral artery-distribution ischemic infarction causing spastic left hemiparesis. We compared Fugl-Meyer scores (numerical evaluation of motor function, sensation, motion, and pain), Modified Ashworth scores (most commonly used clinical assessment of spasticity), and SWE measures of bilateral biceps brachii during passive elbow extension. We detected a catch that featured markedly increased stiffness of the brachialis muscle during several trials of the contralateral limb, especially at higher extension velocities. SWE was able to detect velocity-related increases in stiffness with extension of the contralateral limb, likely indicative of the spastic reflex. This study offers optimism that SWE can provide a rapid, real-time, quantitative technique that is readily accessible to clinicians for evaluating spasticity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)348-352
Number of pages5
JournalRadiology Case Reports
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Jun

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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