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.
Nick, living with cerebral palsy
From the time Nick was diagnosed with a developmental disorder that was later confirmed as cerebral palsy, his mother Eve had been actively researching treatment options.
Nick suffers from spastic quadriplegia, but he's always been determined to walk independently. So Eve found a physical therapist and a physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist that they both liked. Despite the therapy, Nick began experiencing spasticity-related pain, and his physical condition worsened.
"He would get into a crouch position and not be able to move," says Eve. "We were up every night with muscle cramps." Until then, Nick had been mobile with a walker, but Eve worried that he would soon have to go back to using a wheelchair. Eve talked with Nick's therapists, who recommended ITB Therapy with a Medtronic programmable pump system. After a successful screening test, the family made plans to go ahead with the implant.
ITB Therapy relieves severe spasticity using a programmable pump placed just under the skin of the abdomen. The pump is connected to a flexible catheter that delivers anti-spastic medication directly into the body's "intrathecal space," where fluid flows around the spinal cord.
The improvement in Nick's severe spasticity was apparent as soon as he awoke from the implantation procedure. "In the hospital, he lifted his arms over his head for the first time in his life," Eve recalls.
Since the surgery, Nick has experienced a significant change in his level of physical functioning and the pain associated with his spasticity. "We're rarely up in the middle of the night with muscle cramps anymore," says Eve. "Nick walks with his walker at school. Wherever we go, he's mobile."
Nick didn't experience any complications with his surgery. However, some people do experience surgical complications, 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.
To maintain the therapy, Nick's physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist refills his pump every three months. Once a year, the family meets with their paediatric neurosurgeon for a checkup.
As she reflects on her family's experience with a Medtronic pump, Eve says, "I understand how frightening the prospect of surgery can be. I also know the difference it has made in my child's life. He's doing so many things now that he may not have been able to do without this opportunity."
These days, Nick takes part in a weekly fitness program at his physical therapy centre that includes swimming, weight lifting, and treadmill exercises. Although Nick doesn’t do a lot of independent walking, he functions well with his pump and learned to swim following the implant procedure.
This story reflects one person's experience. Not every person will receive the same results. Talk to your doctor about your treatment options.