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.
Ali was born 13 weeks premature. As an infant, she arched her back frequently, and her arms and legs became increasingly stiff. At 14 months of age, Ali was diagnosed with spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy (CP).
As Ali grew, her parents Debby and Mark noticed increasing spasticity, especially on her left side. "I worried that I would break an arm or a leg when I dressed her," Debby says. Ali followed a daily regimen of stretching and motion exercises that would relieve her severe spasticity for a few hours. But the stiffness would always return.
Ali and her family considered a rhizotomy, a neurosurgery that selectively severs problem nerves in the spinal cord to relieve symptoms like Ali's. But with their doctor's help, they determined this procedure was not right for Ali. The doctor recommended they try ITB Therapy using a Medtronic programmable pump system.
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.
Ali underwent a screening test to see if ITB Therapy would relieve her symptoms. "The difference after the screening test was amazing," Debby recalls. She found Ali's arms and legs much easier to move.
Although Ali did experience some weakness, the test indicated she would be a good candidate for the therapy. Six weeks later, 5-year-old Ali had a pump surgically placed.
Ali 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.
With her spasticity under control, Ali's independence grew. Her full-time health aide was reduced to part-time hours. At school, she was allowed to go to the cafeteria and music class without assistance. She even gained the dexterity to use a power wheelchair.
Since her original pump implant, Ali has had her pump replaced three times due to normal battery depletion. (Most pumps need to be replaced for this reason every 6 to 7 years.) During her first replacement, the catheter had not been primed with medication, leading Ali to experience additional spasticity until her physician detected and corrected the problem.
Ali graduated from high school and works as a courtesy clerk at a grocery store. She participates in drama and enjoys outdoor activities. "I finally feel like I have my severe spasticity under control," she says.
This story reflects one person's experience. Not every person will receive the same results. Talk to your doctor about your treatment options.