Effectiveness of physical therapy interventions on post-stroke spasticity: An umbrella review

Gregory Brusola, Erica Garcia, Meagan Albosta, Audrey Daly, Konstandinos Kafes, Michael Furtado

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Post-stroke spasticity is often one of the primary impairments addressed in rehabilitation. However, limited guidance exists on the effectiveness of physical therapy (PT) interventions for post-stroke spasticity. OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the quality of evidence of PT interventions for post-stroke spasticity. METHODS: Ovid (Medline), Cochrane Library, CINAHL, Scopus, PEDro, and PROSPERO were searched to identify reviews based on the following criteria: 1) published between 2012 and 2021, 2) participants older than 18 years old, 3) post-stroke spasticity, 4) PT interventions, 5) clinical or neurophysiological measures of spasticity as primary outcomes. Assessment of Multiple Systematic Reviews 2 and the Grades of Recommendations Assessment, Development, and Evaluation assessed methodological quality. RESULTS: Eight articles were included in the analysis. No high-quality evidence was found. Moderate quality evidence exists for transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, neuromuscular electrical stimulation, resistance training, and lower extremity ergometer training with or without functional electrical stimulation. Low quality evidence exists for dynamic stretching, botulinum toxin with constraint-induced movement therapy, and static stretching using positional orthoses. CONCLUSION: Findings suggest that PT should prioritize a combination of active strategies over passive interventions, but further studies are needed prioritizing analyses of the movement system in managing post-stroke spasticity in conjunction with medical therapies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)349-363
Number of pages15
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2023


  • Muscle spasticity
  • electric stimulation
  • exercise
  • physical therapy
  • physical therapy modalities
  • stroke

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation
  • Clinical Neurology


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