Welcome to our glossary page. Here, you can find explanations for some of the most commonly used medical terms.
Abduction: is the movement of any part of the body away from the centre of the body.
Active movement: is the movement that a child does without help.
Adduction: is the movement of any part of the body towards the centre of the body.
Anterior: is nearer the front of the body.
Associated reactions: is increase of stiffness in a spastic arm or leg resulting from effort in another part of the body; e.g. increased tone in an arm when using a leg.
Asymmetrical: when one side of the body is different from the other side. (unequal)
Ataxia: lack of ability to complete smooth, coordinated movement
Athetoid / Athetosis: fluctuating, uncontrolled patterns of movement
Cerebral Palsy: a persistent but not unchanging disorder of posture and movements appearing in the early years of life.
Clonus: is the shaking movement of a spastic muscle after having been suddenly stretched.
Contracture: permanently shortened muscles and/or joints, caused by reduced stiffness and range of movement (rom).
Diplegia: mainly affecting the lower limbs.
Deformities: the body or limbs being in abnormal positions usually indicates bony changes, as well as contractures.
Depression: is the downward movement of the shoulder.
Distal: is farther away from the attachment of a limb.
Dorsiflexion: foot is going up or back towards the body.
Dystonia: involuntary, poorly-controlled movements
Elevation: upward movement of the shoulder.
Eversion: is the sole of the foot going away from the middle of the body.
Extension: straighten the part of the body.
Facilitation: making it easier/possible to move.
Flexion: the bending of any part of the body.
Head Control: the ability to maintain control or move the position of the head.
Hypotonia: decreased muscle tension/floppiness/flaccid.
Hemiplegia: a functional impairment, more dominant on one side.
Inversion: the under side (sole) of the foot is going towards the middle of the body.
Lateral: to either side, away from the centre of the body, e.g. lateral malleolus – the outside of the ankle.
Medial: nearer the middle of the body.
Movement: change of position.
Muscle tone: the state of tension in muscle at rest and when moved.
Nystagmus: the continual sideways oscillation of the eyeball.
Passive: that which is done to the child without the child having to actively help or co-operate. (n.b. co-operation could cause tone that would limit passive range.)
Patterns of movement: in every movement or change of posture produced by it, the brain recruits muscles into action always in well coordinated groups i.e. patterns.
Plantarflex: foot going away from the body.
Posterior: nearer the back of the body.
Posture: position the child starts a movement from.
Primitive movement: immature or baby movement.
Prone: lying on tummy.
Proximal: is nearer the attachment of the limb.
Quadriplegia: affecting all four limbs and the trunk.
Reflexes: postures and movement completely out of the child’s control.
Retraction: backward movement of the shoulder.
Rotation: (lateral) away from the centre of the whole body.
Scoliosis: deformity of the spine.
Spasm: sudden tightening of muscles.
Spasticity: stiffness – increase in muscle tone.
Superior: towards the head.
Supine: lying on back.
Symmetrical: equal both sides of the body.
Trunk: the body as distinct from limbs.
Valgus feet: flat footed.
Valgus: is a joint being pulled or growing inward.
Varus: is a joint being pulled or growing outward.
Voluntary movement: is movement done with intention and concentration.Back to Liverpool Community Physiotherapy homepage