This story reflects the experience of one individual who is receiving 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.
Mary, stroke survivor who received ITB Therapy using a Medtronic pump.
One evening in December 2001, Mary was in the hospital anticipating a hysterectomy the following morning. While lying in her hospital bed, Mary experienced what she thought was a sinus headache. Unfortunately, it wasn't a headache.
Instead, the fibroids in her uterus were generating blood clots. When one reached Mary's brain, she suffered a stroke. By morning, Mary had lost the use of her left arm and leg, and had paralysis on the left side of her face.
For the next 2 months Mary remained hospitalised, separated from her 12-year-old son and the church community where she's a pastor. After 6 months of intense physical therapy, Mary's left foot remained turned inward on its side. Each step was treacherous, with severe spasticity keeping her leg muscles so tight she couldn't bend at the knee or the hip.
"After all those months of therapy, my physical therapist told me the motion I'd achieved was probably as good as it was going to get," recalls Mary. "She told me to be happy with it and move on. But I couldn't leave it at that. I expected more from life, and more from myself."
Determined to reach a higher level of mobility and comfort, Mary explored other resources. She began working with a new therapist who referred her to a physician in Houston, Texas. The physician told Mary she could address the spasticity in her leg, joints, and arm, and possibly help her become more active with 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 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.
During a screening test, a dose of anti-spastic medication relieved the spasticity on Mary's left side, indicating she could be a candidate for the therapy. The pump was surgically placed in May 2003.
Mary 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.
Today, Mary enjoys an active life. She's a part-time pastor at her church, and participates in water aerobics and Pilates classes. Since her son graduated and went off to school, Mary moved into a townhouse with her son's golden retriever, Mover. "That means I go out dog walking a couple of times a day around the townhouse complex. For the cooler months, we have found Houston's dog parks where Mover can run, play, and swim in the dog pool while I use the people paths to walk a mile or so each time. ITB Therapy has given me independence to keep doing the things I enjoy," says Mary.
"My foot has returned to a more natural angle," she continues. "It still drags, but twisting it when I walk is no longer a concern. I feel such relief in my legs, trunk, and back. Finally, I'm getting a good night's sleep!"
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