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.
Tim was a foreman at an electric company. While working one day in 1998, he was electrocuted. “It went down my spine,” he recalls. “It burned out all the way through.”
For nine weeks, Tim was in a coma. When he woke up it was early 1999. “Initially, my leg was spasming and jumping up and down,” he says. "I thought I was going to be able to walk.” But he did not regain the use of his legs.
Tim tried several oral medications to manage his severe spasticity. Some helped him sleep better at night; some offered short-term relief from spasms. But the spasticity was so severe that it interfered with physical therapy.
“My legs want to clamp together all the time,” he says. “They don’t want to bend. During physical therapy, my legs wanted to fight me and the person who was doing physical therapy with me.”
A couple of weeks after he awoke from his coma, Tim’s doctor suggested Medtronic ITB Therapy.
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 a liquid anti-spastic medication directly into the area where fluid flows around the spinal cord, called the intrathecal space.
Tim took a screening test to see if he was a good candidate for a pump. “I was a little apprehensive,” says Tim, “but I had been through quite a bit, so whatever the doctor told me, that’s what I was going to get.” Two weeks later, he had the pump surgically placed.
Tim had no complications with the trial or his initial pump placement. 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.
Once Tim’s dosage was regulated, his spasticity management became consistent. He is now able to do more in physical therapy since his legs are loosened.
Before the pump, Tim had severe spasms in his legs, stomach, and back. Now, he’s able to go to the mall in his wheelchair, and do other mobile activities. But his most memorable moment was taking his daughter down the aisle at her wedding.
Tim’s advice for people considering a Medtronic pump? “Look at the things you can do with the pump as far as getting more medication during the night or the day depending on the situation. Those are big advantages of the pump.”
Tim notes that it’s important to work with your doctor to manage dosage amounts and program the pump to provide different drug amounts throughout the day. Once you find the right dose, Tim says, “You can do what you want to do in your lifestyle.”
The pump battery lasts an average of 6 to 7 years, and then the pump needs to be replaced. Tim has had several replacements. Two months after his third pump was surgically placed, he developed an infection, which prompted a subsequent replacement.
This story reflects one person's experience. Not every person will receive the same results. Talk to your doctor about your treatment options.