What does injury to the central nervous system lead to and what to do

Central nervous system injury often results in impaired sensory and motor function. There is often increased muscle tone leading to spastic cocontraction, slowed movements, and loss of selective motor control.

The result is loss of ability to perform normal activities of daily living, slowed gait, difficulty walking in tight spaces with obstacles and other gait challenges. The injury can be sudden as in stroke, traumatic as in a brain/spinal cord injury, progressive as in Multiple Sclerosis or Parkinson’s Disease, or congenital as in Cerebral Palsy.

What physical therapists see:

Upon exam, we notice an increase in resistance to movement of limbs and joints indicative of high tone. This carries over into functional assessments. Transfers from sitting to standing and subsequent walking are markedly slower requiring more effort, and are usually slower and less efficient. Balance and ability to react are significantly diminished leading to decreased ability and confidence. Over time, stiffness in muscles results in postural changes. Stiffness in the front of the shoulders and chest leads to a slouched posture exacerbated by an increase in sedentary lifestyle.

What physical therapists can do:

Movement therapy remains part of the gold standard when it comes to treating tone and it’s effects: weakness, stiffness, dexterity. This includes targeted and general stretching, aerobic exercise, and progressive resistance exercise. Physical therapists have been doing this for decades. There is also growing evidence for the use of dry needling in hypertonic muscle to improve flexibility, balance, and gait. A recent randomized control trial aimed to assess dry needling in the calf muscles of post-stroke survivors. With only 3 sessions they observed significant improvements in calf flexibility, balance, and walking function testing that lasted at least 1 month after the intervention. In our clinic, we have begun to use dry needling as an adjunct and primary treatment of stiffness from Parkinson’s disease with subjective improvement in our patients.

If you are interested in trying dry needling, give us a call to find out more about setting up an appointment. Feel free to share this information with anyone you think may benefit.

Best In Health!

Chris & Cam
P.S. Any pain? Come on in for some some TLC. Our manual therapy only session is just $50. We can Graston, Cup, and Stretch out the tight and get you feelin’ right! ha
Ghannadi S, Shariat A, Ansari NN, Tavakol Z, Honarpishe R, Dommerholt J, Noormohammadpour P, Ingle L. The Effect of Dry Needling on Lower Limb Dysfunction in Poststroke Survivors. J Stroke Cerebrovasc Dis. 2020 Jun;29(6):104814. doi: 10.1016/j. jstrokecerebrovasdis.2020. 104814. Epub 2020 Apr 21. PMID: 32327366.

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