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.
At 17 years old, Jason was quickly moving up the ranks in the world of motocross racing. But while practicing on a jagged road, Jason slammed the front tire of his dirt bike into a hidden rock. He was hurled headfirst over his handlebars to the ground, severing his spinal cord at the T5/T6-level. Jason became paralyzed below the chest.
Even after his injury, Jason was determined to live life in the fast lane. He started racing again, this time in his wheelchair. But it wasn’t long before Jason suffered an onset of severe spasticity in his legs and back. “The spasms were so bad they would throw me backward out of my chair,” he recalls.
Jason’s spasms made even day-to-day activities challenging. He had difficulty staying in his racing chair, transferring, and dressing without having an attack. Jason tried oral medication, but it left him feeling weak and groggy. His doctor suggested Medtronic ITB Therapy.
ITB Therapy relieves severe spasticity using a programmable pump placed just under the skin of the abdomen. The pump is connected to a thin, flexible catheter that delivers a liquid form of anti-spastic medication directly into the body’s intrathecal space, where fluid flows around the spinal cord.
Jason underwent a successful screening test and had the pump surgically placed the next day. Jason’s leg and back muscles relaxed. Activities like transferring, dressing, and racing became easier.
Jason didn’t experience any complications with his initial 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.
When Jason went in after 5 years for his first routine pump replacement, he developed an infection. His doctor removed the pump until the infection could heal completely.
“My spasms were horrible without the pump,” he says. “But as soon as the infection healed, I had the pump replaced and got them back under control.” Since that time, Jason has had a subsequent pump replacement without any complications.
With his spasticity under control, Jason enrolled at the University of Illinois, where he joined the wheelchair racing team. He completed his degree at Northeastern University in Boston, and went on to earn his master’s degree in business administration at Boston University.
Jason continues to excel, both on the job and on the road. To date, he has completed over 140 road races, 28 marathons, and 18 triathlons. In June 2008, he was one of four wheelchair athletes to qualify for the Hawaii Ironman Triathlon. In addition to training twice a day, he works full time in finance.
“ITB Therapy helps me prove that nothing is impossible,” says Jason.
This story reflects one person's experience. Not every person will receive the same results. Talk to your doctor about your treatment options.