Contractures are a common and disabling problem for people with spinal cord injuries. To date, contractures have largely been managed with physical interventions such as stretch and passive movements. These are typically administered either manually or with the assistance of various orthoses, devices or aids. However, the results of recent clinical trials question the effectiveness of these interventions. They indicate that therapists should not expect to see a change in joint mobility or muscle extensibility from stretches applied for less than 30 minutes a day over less than 3 months. This suggests that contractures may be a far more complex and multifactorial problem to manage than previously assumed. This paper challenges clinicians and researchers to reappraise the effectiveness of current contracture management.
- muscle stretching
- Spinal cord injury