A muscle’s resistance to stretch in called its tone. It resists the effects of gravity, in posture and movement, yet allowing muscle the freedom to move. Hypertonia is marked by an abnormal increase in muscle tone and a reduced ability of a muscle to stretch.
Muscle Hypertonia is caused by overactive reflexes, constant muscle contractions or upper motor neuron damage. It may cause the muscle tone to increase so much that arms or legs become stiff and difficult to move.
The signals travelling from the brain to the nerves regulate muscle tone and tell the muscles to contract. When the brain areas or spinal cord regions controlling these signals get damaged, hypertonia happens. There can be a lot of reasons for this damage such as a blow to the head, stroke, brain tumours, toxins that affect the brain, neurodegenerative processes such as in multiple sclerosis or Parkinson's disease, or neurodevelopmental abnormalities such as in cerebral palsy.
The treatment plan for your child will specifically be based by their therapist on the evaluation and goals. Muscle spasticity may be reduced through muscle relaxing drugs such as baclofen, diazepam, and dantrolene. These drugs are taken orally, though baclofen can also be injected directly into the cerebrospinal fluid through an implanted pump.
Hypertonia in a specific body area can also be relieved with botulinum toxin. Body movement should be preserved by people with hypertonia as much as they can with the help of exercise and physical therapy.
Drugs that affect the dopamine system (dopamine is a chemical in the brain) such as levodopa/carbidopa, or entacapone, are often used to treat the rigidity associated with Parkinson's disease.
Therapist interventions include strengthening exercises, stretching activities, and movement training. The doctor provides a home program for the child along with their parents on a regular basis.
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