Muscle overactivity is a general term for pathological increases in muscle activity such as spasticity. It is caused by damage to the central nervous system at the cortical, subcortical or spinal levels, leading to an upper motor neuron syndrome. In routine clinical practice, muscle overactivity, which induces abnormal muscle tone, is usually evaluated by using the Modified Ashworth Scale or the Tardieu Scale. However, both of these scales involve testing in passive conditions that do not always reflect muscle activity during dynamic tasks such as gait or reaching. To determine appropriate treatment strategies, muscle overactivity should be evaluated by using objective measures in dynamic conditions. Instrumental motion analysis systems that include 3-D motion analysis and electromyography are very useful for this purpose. The method can be used to identify patterns of abnormal muscle activity that can be related to abnormal kinematic patterns. It allows for objective and accurate assessment of the effects of treatments to reduce muscle overactivity on the movement to be improved. The aim of this point-of-view article is to describe the utility of instrumental motion analysis and to outline both its numerous advantages in evaluating muscle overactivity and to present the current limitations for its use (e.g., cost, the need for an engineer, errors relating to marker placement and cross talk between electromyography sensors).Le texte complet de cet article est disponible en PDF.
Keywords : muscle overactivity, stroke, spastic paresis, kinematics, joint dynamics, electromyography, intersegmental coordination, clinical practice, upper motor neuron syndrome