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Spasticity in children and young people overview

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Spasticity in children and young people

About

What is covered

This pathway covers the management of spasticity and co-existing motor disorders and their early musculoskeletal complications in children and young people (from birth up to their 19th birthday) with non-progressive brain disorders.
Cerebral palsy is the most common condition associated with spasticity in children and young people. The incidence of cerebral palsy is not known, but its prevalence in the UK is 186 per 100,000 population, with a total of 110,000 people affected. The guideline covers the management of spasticity associated with cerebral palsy, but not all aspects of the management of cerebral palsy.
The impact of spasticity and co-existing motor disorders and their early musculoskeletal complications on the child or young person varies. Common problems include impaired motor function affecting the person's ability to participate in society, pain from muscle spasms, motor developmental delay and difficulties with daily care due to the onset of secondary complications of spasticity. Management should be tailored to meet the problems faced by the individual child or young person and their individual goals.
There is considerable variation in practice in managing spasticity, including variation in the availability of treatments and the intensity of their use. This pathway will help healthcare professionals to select and use appropriate treatments for individual children and young people.

Updates

Updates to this pathway

2 September 2014 Added link to drug allergy pathway.
27 February 2014 Minor maintenance update.
6 November 2013 Minor maintenance updates.
8 March 2013 Minor maintenance updates.

Professional responsibilities

The recommendations in this pathway represent the view of NICE, arrived at after careful consideration of the evidence available. When exercising their judgement, professionals are expected to take these recommendations fully into account, alongside the individual needs, preferences and values of their patients or service users. Applying the recommendations in this pathway is at the discretion of health and care professionals and their individual patients or service users and does not override the responsibility of health and care professionals to make decisions appropriate to the circumstances of the individual, in consultation with them and/or their carer or guardian.
Commissioners and/or providers have a responsibility to enable the recommendations to be applied (and to provide funding required for technology appraisal guidance) when individual health and care professionals and their patients or service users wish to use them. They should do so in the context of local and national priorities for funding and developing services, and in light of their duties to have due regard to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination, to advance equality of opportunity and to reduce health inequalities. Nothing in this pathway should be interpreted in a way that would be inconsistent with compliance with those duties.

Patient-centred care

People have the right to be involved in discussions and make informed decisions about their care, as described in your care.
Making decisions using NICE guidelines explains how we use words to show the strength (or certainty) of our recommendations, and has information about prescribing medicines (including off label use), professional guidelines, standards and laws (including on consent and mental capacity), and safeguarding.

Short Text

Spasticity in children and young people with non-progressive brain disorders: management of spasticity and co-existing motor disorders and their early musculoskeletal complications

What is covered

This pathway covers the management of spasticity and co-existing motor disorders and their early musculoskeletal complications in children and young people (from birth up to their 19th birthday) with non-progressive brain disorders.
Cerebral palsy is the most common condition associated with spasticity in children and young people. The incidence of cerebral palsy is not known, but its prevalence in the UK is 186 per 100,000 population, with a total of 110,000 people affected. The guideline covers the management of spasticity associated with cerebral palsy, but not all aspects of the management of cerebral palsy.
The impact of spasticity and co-existing motor disorders and their early musculoskeletal complications on the child or young person varies. Common problems include impaired motor function affecting the person's ability to participate in society, pain from muscle spasms, motor developmental delay and difficulties with daily care due to the onset of secondary complications of spasticity. Management should be tailored to meet the problems faced by the individual child or young person and their individual goals.
There is considerable variation in practice in managing spasticity, including variation in the availability of treatments and the intensity of their use. This pathway will help healthcare professionals to select and use appropriate treatments for individual children and young people.

Updates

Updates to this pathway

2 September 2014 Added link to drug allergy pathway.
27 February 2014 Minor maintenance update.
6 November 2013 Minor maintenance updates.
8 March 2013 Minor maintenance updates.

Sources

The NICE guidance that was used to create the pathway.
Spasticity in children and young people (2012) NICE guideline CG145
Selective dorsal rhizotomy for spasticity in cerebral palsy (2010) NICE interventional procedure guidance 373

Quality standards

Quality statements

Effective interventions library

Effective interventions library

Successful effective interventions library details

Implementation

These resources include support for commissioners to plan for costs and savings of guidance implementation and meeting quality standards where they apply.
These resources will help to inform discussions with providers about the development of services and may include measurement and action planning tools.
These resources provide help with planning ahead for NICE guidance, understanding where you are now, and conducting improvement initiatives.

Information for the public

NICE produces information for the public that summarises, in plain English, the recommendations that NICE makes to healthcare and other professionals.
NICE has written information for the public explaining its guidance on each of the following topics.

Pathway information

Professional responsibilities

The recommendations in this pathway represent the view of NICE, arrived at after careful consideration of the evidence available. When exercising their judgement, professionals are expected to take these recommendations fully into account, alongside the individual needs, preferences and values of their patients or service users. Applying the recommendations in this pathway is at the discretion of health and care professionals and their individual patients or service users and does not override the responsibility of health and care professionals to make decisions appropriate to the circumstances of the individual, in consultation with them and/or their carer or guardian.
Commissioners and/or providers have a responsibility to enable the recommendations to be applied (and to provide funding required for technology appraisal guidance) when individual health and care professionals and their patients or service users wish to use them. They should do so in the context of local and national priorities for funding and developing services, and in light of their duties to have due regard to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination, to advance equality of opportunity and to reduce health inequalities. Nothing in this pathway should be interpreted in a way that would be inconsistent with compliance with those duties.

Patient-centred care

People have the right to be involved in discussions and make informed decisions about their care, as described in your care.
Making decisions using NICE guidelines explains how we use words to show the strength (or certainty) of our recommendations, and has information about prescribing medicines (including off label use), professional guidelines, standards and laws (including on consent and mental capacity), and safeguarding.

Supporting information

Following treatment with botulinum toxin type A, continuous pump-administered intrathecal baclofen, orthopaedic surgery or selective dorsal rhizotomy, provide an adapted physical therapy programme. Ensure that children and young people and their parents or carers understand that this programme is an essential component of management.
  • reduction in spasticity
  • reduction in dystonia
  • reduction in pain or muscle spasms
  • improved posture, including head control
  • improved function
  • improved self-care (or ease of care by parents or carers).

Glossary

A neurotoxin produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum that blocks neurotransmitter release at peripheral cholinergic nerve terminals. Injection into a muscle reduces spasticity.
Direct administration of baclofen into the fluid-filled space around the spinal cord (the intrathecal space) using a catheter and infusion pump. The pump is implanted in the abdominal cavity and allows a continual controlled delivery of baclofen adjusted according to need.
Involuntary, sustained, or intermittent muscle contractions that cause twitching and repetitive movements, abnormal postures or both.
The ability to use small muscle groups, often in coordination with the eyes, to perform precision activities such as writing or fastening buttons.
Spasticity involving a specific muscle or group of muscles.
A detailed approach to analysing the component phases of walking using instrumentation or video analysis in addition to clinical observation. This is undertaken to evaluate a child or young person's ability and style of walking and to plan or assess treatment.
The ability to use large muscle groups to perform body movements such as sitting, standing, walking and running.
Direct injection of baclofen into the fluid-filled space around the spinal cord (the intrathecal space) using a lumbar puncture needle or a temporary spinal catheter in order to assess the likely response to continuous pump-administered baclofen treatment.
A physical therapy intervention in which the child or young person actively stretches their muscles with the aim of increasing range of movement.
The normal state of continuous passive partial contraction in a resting muscle. Muscle tone is important in maintaining posture. Increased muscle tone (hypertonia) is associated with an abnormal resistance to passive stretch, while reduced muscle tone (hypotonia) is associated with floppiness of the limbs or trunk and poor posture.
A multidisciplinary group of healthcare and other professionals working in a network of care to deliver a clinical service.
The degree of motion through which a joint can be moved by an outside force without active participation by the child or young person themself (for example, movement by another person).
The range of motion, usually measured in degrees, through which a joint can move.
An adverse effect on musculoskeletal structure that occurs as a result of spasticity (for example, a contracture or abnormal torsion).
A neurosurgical procedure in which some of the sensory nerves that contribute to spasticity in the lower limb are cut at the point where they enter the spinal cord.
A specific form of increased muscle tone (hypertonia) in which one or both of the following are present:
  • the resistance to externally imposed movement increases with increasing speed of stretch and varies with the direction of joint movement
  • the resistance to externally imposed movement increases rapidly beyond a threshold speed or joint angle.
A physiotherapy technique where a specific goal is identified and the child or young person carries out exercises or activities using the affected limb or limbs to improve their performance.
An approach to physical therapy in which an unaffected arm is temporarily restrained to encourage use of the other arm.
Shortening of muscle tendons, ligaments and soft tissues resulting in a limitation of joint movement. Usually, muscle shortening is the primary abnormality, but prolonged immobility or scarring may also contribute.
Abnormal ankle plantarflexion (movement of the foot at the ankle joint in a downward direction). This can, for example, result in the child or young person walking on tiptoe.
Dystonia involving a specific muscle or group of muscles.
The ability to perform normal activities or actions. Such function may be impaired by spasticity and associated motor disorders and by the complications of spasticity.
Gross Motor Function Classification System. This is a five-point scale that describes gross motor function: level I, walks without restrictions; level II, walks without assistive devices; level III, walks with assistive devices; level IV, has limited self-mobility; level V, has severely limited self-mobility even with assistive devices.
Movement of the top of the thigh bone that connects with the pelvis (the femoral head) from its normal position in the socket joint of the hip (the acetabulum). This movement is often measured by reporting the degree of displacement seen on X-ray (known as the hip migration percentage).
Abnormal curvature of the spine when viewed from the side of the body that results in a hunched or slouching position.
A physical therapy intervention involving sustained stretching using positioning with equipment, orthoses or serial casting.
Linked groups of healthcare professionals and organisations working in an agreed and coordinated manner to deliver a clinical service. A network is not constrained by existing professional, organisational or institutional boundaries.
(plural, orthoses) An artificial device or appliance used to support, align, prevent, or correct deformities or to improve musculoskeletal function.
Physiotherapy and/or occupational therapy.
An abnormal lateral curvature of the spine viewed from in front of or behind the child or young person.
Any effect experienced by a child or young person as a result of spasticity. This may be symptomatic (for example, pain or difficulty walking) or a complication affecting the structure of the musculoskeletal system (see secondary complications of spasticity).
The successive use of casts with the aim of progressively lengthening muscles and other non-bony tissues such as ligaments and tendons thereby reducing the effect of contractures by passive stretching to gradually improve the range of movement.
A surgical procedure where two or more vertebrae are joined to prevent movement between them.

Paths in this pathway

Pathway created: July 2012 Last updated: December 2015

© NICE 2016

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