Gegenhalten, or paratonia, or paratonic rigidity, is a resistance to passive movement of a limb when changing its posture or position, which is evident in both flexor and extensor muscles (as in rigidity, but not spasticity), which seems to increase further with attempts to get the patient to relax, such that there is a resistance to any applied movement

(German: to counter, stand ones ground). However, this is not a form of impaired muscle relaxation akin to myotonia and paramyotonia. For instance, when lifting the legs by placing the hands under the knees, the legs may be held extended at the knees despite encouragement on the part of the examiner for the patient to flex the knees.
Gegenhalten is a sign of bilateral frontal lobe dysfunction, especially mesial cortex and superior convexity (premotor cortex, area 6). It is not uncommon in elderly individuals with diffuse frontal lobe cerebrovascular disease.


Cross References

Frontal Release Signs; Myotonia; Paramyotonia; Rigidity; Spasticity