Brief Report| Volume 21, ISSUE 8, P1157-1160, August 2020

Prevalence of Spasticity in Nursing Home Residents

Published:February 18, 2020DOI:



      To determine the prevalence, rate of underdiagnosis and undertreatment, and association with activities of daily living dependency of spasticity in a nursing home setting.


      Cross-sectional study.

      Setting and participants

      This study is an analysis of a deidentified data set generated by a prior quality improvement project at a 240-bed nursing home for residents receiving long-term care or skilled nursing care services.


      Each resident was examined by a movement disorders specialist neurologist to determine whether spasticity was present and, if so, the total number of spastic postures present in upper and lower limbs was recorded. Medical records, including the Minimum Data Set, were reviewed for neurologic diagnoses associated with spasticity, activities of daily living (ADL) dependency, and prior documentation of diagnosis and past or current treatments. Ordinary least squares linear regression models were used to evaluate the association between spasticity and ADL dependency.


      Two hundred nine residents (154 women, 81.9 ± 10.9 years) were included in this analysis. Spasticity was present in 22% (45/209) of residents examined by the neurologist. Only 11% of residents (5/45) had a prior diagnosis of spasticity and were receiving treatment. Presence of spasticity was associated with greater ADL dependency (χ2 = 51.72, P < .001), which was driven by lower limb spasticity (χ2 = 14.56, P = .006).

      Conclusions and implications

      These results suggest that spasticity (1) is common in nursing homes (1 of 5 residents), (2) is often not diagnosed or adequately treated, and (3) is associated with worse ADL dependency. Further research is needed to enhance the rates of diagnosis and treatment of spasticity in long-term care facilities.


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