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.
Alexis was born with spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy. Through her first 6 years of life she had trouble expressing herself due to severe spasticity.
When Alexis attempted to write, spasticity prevented her from making a single mark on a piece of paper. When she tried to speak, the spasticity constricted her voice.
Her communication limitations made it hard for others to get to know Alexis. “I would tell everyone how smart and fun Alexis was,” recalls her mother, Rachel. “But I think I was the only one who realised it at that point.”
Alexis, her mother, and her care team tried several treatments for the spasticity, such as oral medications and injection therapy. At one point, Alexis was at the maximum dose of the oral medication and every 3 months she received over 30 painful injections.
The treatments made Alexis feel awful and her spasticity was still out of control. That’s when her doctor told her about ITB Therapy using a Medtronic programmable pump system.
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-spastic medication directly into the area where fluid flows around the spinal cord, called the intrathecal space.
Alexis had a screening test to see if ITB Therapy would relieve her symptoms. “The screening test went perfectly. We decided to have the pump placed the next day,” Rachel recalls.
Alexis didn’t experience any complications with her 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.
Over time, Rachel noticed that Alexis was able to sit much straighter in her wheelchair. Her speech drastically improved, and Alexis even began drawing pictures.
“She eventually gained enough muscle control to operate a power wheelchair,” Rachel recalls.
The Medtronic pump also helped Alexis discover that she loves outdoor activities like riding roller coasters, swimming, and horseback riding. She gained enough independence to enrol in mainstream school.
"ITB Therapy has opened so many new doors for Alexis," Rachel says. "Now everyone who meets her knows what a wonderful little girl she is."
"Getting this pump for my daughter was the best decision that I have ever made."
This story reflects one person's experience. Not every person will receive the same results. Talk to your doctor about your treatment options.