Information for the public



Spasticity is a condition that affects the muscles, making them more stiff and rigid than usual, and it may be accompanied by other problems such as uncontrolled movements. It is caused by problems with the part of the brain that controls movement.

Spasticity most commonly affects the legs and arms, but it can also affect any part of the body – for example, the trunk, neck and face. It can cause problems with posture, sitting, walking, hand and arm movements, speech and swallowing. It can also cause discomfort, pain, cramps and spasms.

Cerebral palsy is the most common cause of spasticity in children and young people. Cerebral palsy includes various conditions that affect muscle control and movement. In children who are born with a brain injury causing cerebral palsy, spasticity may not be present at birth and may only become evident over time. In other cases, spasticity may occur later in childhood or adolescence – for example, as a result of a serious head injury.

This information is about the care and treatment your child should receive for spasticity caused by non-progressive brain disorders, such as cerebral palsy. It does not cover other aspects of cerebral palsy such as speech difficulties or visual impairment.

This information contains two sections – one for parents and carers of children with spasticity and one for young people with spasticity. The first part of this information is written mainly for parents and carers, although it makes clear that children and young people should be included in the discussions and decision-making wherever possible.

Questions you might like to ask your healthcare team

  • What can I/we do to help and support my child?

  • Who will be involved in my child's care?

  • What assessments and treatments will my child need?

  • Are there any support organisations in my local area?

  • Is there any additional support that I/we as carer(s) might benefit from or be entitled to?

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