Submissions from Readers


by Sonia Chavez
(Santa Barbara, Ca,USA)

Question: My stepfather had a stroke March 12,2014. He didn't receive help for 5hrs. He was in a medically induced coma for 10 day and lost his speech and mobility. Since then he is able to talk although it is a struggle at times. He is slowly making progress with his ability to walk around the with assistance of a walking stick but gets tired so reverts back to his wheelchair. My question is, he has a brace on his lower right ankle. His right knee is always locked so it doesn't bend when he walks and his leg remains stiff. Is there any possibility for it to regain range of motion or bend again? What is the reason for the lack of bending ability? His right arm also doesn't really move. He usually rests it on the arm rest on his wheelchair. He recently began to move his elbow so we are hoping for mobility to return to his arm with more therapy.

Answer: I cannot say with certainty why his knee won't bend, but it may be due to hypertonicity or contracture (or both). Some individuals can get increased extensor tone in the leg causing the muscles that extend the leg to become very tight causing the leg to stay straight. If an individual then goes without bending the leg for a long period of time, the joint can then become contracted and won't bend. If someone else can bend his knee, then it is not contracted. I would consult with his neurologist to see why the knee is not bending, and if there is anything that can be done especially if excessive tone is the problem.

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