This story reflects the experience of one individual who is receiving Medtronic ITB TherapySM for the treatment of severe spasticity. Medtronic, Inc. invited this person to share this story candidly. As you read it, please bear in mind that the experiences are specific to this particular individual. Results vary; not every response is the same.
Despite being born with spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy (CP), Brian did not let his disability rule his life.
"Growing up, people would say, 'You can't do this, or you can't do that.' But I never believed them," Brian says. "I knew that there was a lot more out there for me."
As Brian grew older, he had less and less control over his muscles and balance. Spasticity, or uncontrolled muscle contractions, made it increasingly difficult or impossible to perform many activities.
Brian was certain he could accomplish a lot with his life, but knew he needed to address his severe spasticity and motor control difficulties first.
Oral spasticity medications left Brian feeling groggy and did not adequately relieve his symptoms. After trying several different doses, Brian’s clinician told him about ITB Therapy.
ITB Therapy relieves severe spasticity by using a programmable pump placed just under the skin of the abdomen. The pump is connected to a flexible catheter that delivers anti-spasticity medication directly into the area where fluid flows around the spinal cord, called the intrathecal space.
Brian first needed a screening test to see if the medication would relieve his symptoms.
"My spasticity was nearly gone during the trial!" Brian remembers. For 4 days after the trial he experienced a severe headache, which resolved on its own.
After having the pump surgically placed, Brian was sick and nauseous for several days and couldn't eat any food. After a few more days in the hospital, his muscles were looser and more relaxed.
Brian didn't experience any additional complications with his surgery. However, some people do experience surgical complications, other side effects of the drug, or both. As with any surgical procedure, there are risks associated with ITB Therapy. Some of these risks include meningitis, spinal fluid leak, infection, paralysis, headache, swelling, bleeding, and bruising. Drug-related side effects may include loose muscles, drowsiness, nausea/vomiting, headache, and dizziness.
Since his pump was placed in 2006, Brian has noticed a dramatic increase in his independence, happiness, and quality of life. He is now able to care for his personal needs and transfer to and from his wheelchair. Relying less on other people for assistance, he feels much better about himself.
Brian is able to live on his own in an apartment to which only minor modifications have been required. A specialist in evaluation and training for assistive technology, Brian is also actively engaged as a board member in several nonprofit organisations. He has dedicated his life to advancing the independence of people with disabilities, at home and abroad.
“Whenever somebody who didn’t believe in me sees me now, I don't need to say anything,” he continues. “They see how fluidly I move and everything I've accomplished, and that says it all.”
Brian wants us to remember, “I have Cerebral Palsy; Cerebral Palsy does not have me.”
This story reflects one person's experience. Not every person will receive the same results. Talk to your doctor about your treatment options.