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.
Ed, stroke survivor who received ITB Therapy using a Medtronic pump.
In 2000, Ed experienced a hemorrhagic stroke caused by bleeding into the brain from arteriovenous malformations (AVM), which are masses of abnormal blood vessels. The condition had been treated, and he was recovering well — until one morning in January 2003, when a blood clot travelled from his heart to his brain, causing an ischemic stroke and severe weakness on his left side. Ed found it difficult to get dressed and knew he needed help immediately.
After a month in the hospital, Ed was transferred to a rehabilitation facility where he underwent intensive physical and occupational therapy before returning home.
"The spasticity remained and it was extremely painful," recalls Ed. "It was like having a constant charley horse. I was able to walk, but the spasticity affected my gait."
Ed had been given injection therapy for spasticity in his upper arm, but the effect would diminish in 90 to 120 days. When Ed's doctor suggested ITB Therapy using a Medtronic implantable pump system, Ed was receptive.
ITB Therapy uses 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 area where fluid flows around the spinal cord, called the intrathecal space.
Before getting the pump, Ed needed to have a screening test to see if the ITB Therapy would relieve his symptoms.
"During the screening test, my left foot made full contact with the floor for the first time since the stroke," says Ed. "Because I had more foot surface on the floor, I could put more weight on my leg and so I was sturdier. The change in my gait — for the better — was noticeable." Ed had the pump surgically placed in December 2004.
Ed didn't experience any complications with his 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.
While Ed still has spasticity, it has been significantly reduced. He feels steadier on his feet. He is confident about spending time unsupervised while his wife and family caregiver, Andrea, works.
"Ed has more energy and his movements are freer with the pump," says Andrea. "I feel better going to work knowing he's comfortable staying home alone."
Ed also attributes his increased productivity in physical therapy to the pump. "Because ITB Therapy has reduced my spasticity, I stretch better and am developing more range of motion. I look forward to getting more ability as time goes by."
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Information on this site should not be used as a substitute for talking with your doctor. Always talk with your doctor about diagnosis and treatment information.