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TABLE 1

Comparison Chart of Principal Differentiating Diagnostic Features

SpasticityDystoniaRigidity
Summary Velocity-dependent resistance Sustained or intermittent muscle contractions Independent of both speed and posture 
Effect of increasing speed of passive movement on resistance Increases No effect No effect 
Effect of rapid reversal of direction on resistance Delayed Immediate Immediate 
Presence of a fixed posture Only in severe cases Yes No 
Effect of voluntary activity on pattern of activated muscles Minimal Yes Minimal 
Effect of behavioral task and emotional state on pattern of activated muscles Minimal Yes Minimal 
SpasticityDystoniaRigidity
Summary Velocity-dependent resistance Sustained or intermittent muscle contractions Independent of both speed and posture 
Effect of increasing speed of passive movement on resistance Increases No effect No effect 
Effect of rapid reversal of direction on resistance Delayed Immediate Immediate 
Presence of a fixed posture Only in severe cases Yes No 
Effect of voluntary activity on pattern of activated muscles Minimal Yes Minimal 
Effect of behavioral task and emotional state on pattern of activated muscles Minimal Yes Minimal 

Reproduced with permission from: Sanger TD, Delgado MR, Gaebler-Spira D, Hallett M, Mink JW. Classification and definition of disorders causing hypertonia in childhood. Pediatrics. 2003;111(1):e89–e97.

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