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.
In 1993, Diana was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS). The first symptoms emerged as pain in her face and left arm. The multiple sclerosis progressed over time and symptoms made it hard for her go about her daily activities.
"I walked with a cane for 5 years. Some days I could walk fairly well, but most of the time I was much too spastic. It made me feel uneasy to have to walk that way, but then I was glad I could walk at all," Diana recalls.
Her tight, stiff muscles interfered with her independence. She and her husband, Doug, loved to play disc golf and go camping. Having to use a cane made it hard to set up camp and playing disc golf became an "exercise in futility." Even simple things took twice as long to do and tending her garden became very challenging.
Diana tried using oral medications to treat her severe spasticity, but they weren’t very effective and made her very drowsy. Diana’s doctor suggested Medtronic ITB Therapy using a Medtronic programmable pump system.
Before Diana and her doctor made the decision to have the pump placed, she needed to have a screening test to see if ITB Therapy would relieve her symptoms.
"Four hours after my screening test began, I could swing my leg from my hip," Diana remembers. "I was walking like I had been before I was diagnosed with MS; I could not believe it. The doctors and nurses couldn’t believe the difference."
When Diana attempted to stand up shortly after the test dose, she experienced a headache caused by a spinal fluid leak. Diana’s doctor quickly took measures to resolve the problem.
ITB Therapy relieves severe spasticity by using a programmable pump placed just under the skin of the abdomen. The pump is connected to a thin, flexible catheter that delivers anti-spastic medication directly into the area where fluid flows around the spinal cord, called the intrathecal space.
Diana had the pump placed in March of 2000. She spent 3 days in the hospital recovering from her surgery and spent another few weeks in physical therapy as an outpatient.
Diana 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.
Since receiving ITB Therapy, Diana no longer needs a cane to assist her in walking. She has gotten back to doing the things that she loves, like gardening, camping, and accompanying her husband on disc golf tournaments.
According to Diana, "ITB Therapy has made it a lot easier for my husband as my caregiver. In addition to accompanying Doug on the disc golf course, I have joined the Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA) and passed my Officials Test. Now I can help run local tournaments and make judgment calls on the course when needed. I still can't play the game but I can contribute to the sport!”
This story reflects one person's experience. Not every person will receive the same results. Talk to your doctor about your treatment options.