Optimizing the Management of Disabling Spasticity Following Spinal Cord Damage: The Ability Network—An International Initiative


      Optimizing the treatment of disabling spasticity in persons with spinal cord damage is hampered by a lack of consensus regarding the use of acceptable definitions of spasticity and disabling spasticity, and the relative absence of decision tools such as clinical guidelines and concise algorithms to support decision-making within the broader clinical community. Many people with spinal cord damage are managed outside specialist centers, and variations in practice result in unequal access to best practice despite equal need. In order to address these issues, the Ability Network—an international panel of clinical experts—was initiated to develop management algorithms to guide and standardize the assessment, treatment, and evaluation of outcomes of persons with spinal cord damage and disabling spasticity. To achieve this, consensus was sought on common definitions through facilitated, in-person meetings. To guide patient selection, an in-depth review of the available tools was performed and expert consensus sought to develop an appropriate instrument. Literature reviews are guiding the selection and development of tools to evaluate treatment outcomes (body functions, activity, participation, quality of life) as perceived by people with spinal cord damage and disabling spasticity, and their caregivers and clinicians. Using this approach, the Ability Network aims to facilitate treatment decisions that take into account the following: the impact of disabling spasticity on health status, patient preferences, treatment goals, tolerance for adverse events, and in cases of totally dependent persons, caregiver burden.


      List of abbreviations:

      ICF (International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health), ITB (intrathecal baclofen), QOL (quality of life)
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