Hyper-reflexia without spasticity after unilateral infarct of the medullary pyramid

S. J. Sherman, G. F. Koshland, J. F. Laguna

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Whether or not a lesion confined to the pyramidal tract produces spasticity in humans remains an unresolved controversy. We have studied a patient with an ischemic lesion of the right medullary pyramid, using objective measures of hyper-reflexia, spasticity, and weakness. Electromyographic activity (EMG) of the biceps muscles was recorded under the following conditions: (1) in response to a tendon tap with an instrumental reflex hammer, (2) in response to imposed quick stretch with motion analysis, and (3) during an isometric holding task. Hyper-reflexia of the involved arm in response to tendon tap was shown to be due primarily to an increase in the gain of the reflex arc. No velocity-dependent increase in the response to quick stretch of the involved arm was present. This was consistent with the absence of detectable spasticity on the clinical exam. These findings suggest that a lesion confined to the medullary pyramid can give rise to weakness and hyper-reflexia without causing spasticity. Moreover, these findings suggest that different anatomical substrates may underlie the clinical phenomena of hyper-reflexia and spasticity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)145-155
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the Neurological Sciences
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 15 2000


  • Pyramidal infarct
  • Quick stretch;
  • Spasticity;
  • Stroke
  • Tendon tap;

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


Dive into the research topics of 'Hyper-reflexia without spasticity after unilateral infarct of the medullary pyramid'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this