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Hamstrings stretch reflex in human spasticity
  1. David Burke1,
  2. J. D. Gillies2,
  3. James W. Lance
  1. Division of Neurology, The Prince Henry Hospital, Sydney, Australia
  2. The School of Medicine, University of New South Wales, Australia


    In 16 patients with spastic paralysis the hamstrings stretch reflex was found to increase as the velocity of stretch increased, and generally to subside after movement ceased. These effects are attributable to the dynamic property of the primary spindle ending. The stretch reflex commonly appeared in only the last third of the stretching movement and was maximal as the knee became fully extended. This is consistent with the static properties of the primary and secondary spindle endings, and accounts for the absence of the clasp-knife phenomenon in the spastic hamstrings. The difference in the nature of the stretch reflex in spastic flexor and extensor muscles is best explained by the differential reflex effects of group II afferent fibres which facilitate flexor motoneurones and inhibit extensor motoneurones.

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    • 1 Commonwealth Postgraduate Scholar and Adolph Basser Research Fellow in Neurology.

    • 2 Research Scholar of the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia.