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.
While at work one afternoon in April 1998 at the gas station he owns, Ricky called his wife and told her his equilibrium was off. She noticed Ricky's language was slurred, and then the telephone fell to the floor. A stroke sent Ricky into an unconscious state for the next 5 weeks.
When he finally regained consciousness, his mind was fuzzy and he could not talk. He had no control over his right side and could not walk.
Intensive speech, occupational, and physical therapy followed for the next 5 months. Ricky regained much of what he had lost and again was able to speak and walk. However, severe spasticity emerged in his right leg.
Ricky eventually began receiving injection therapy to ease his spasticity. But the shots provided only temporary relief until the spasticity returned.
At the suggestion of his doctor, Ricky underwent a preliminary screening test for ITB Therapy in February 2001 to determine if the therapy could control his spasticity. The test was successful, and Ricky began receiving ITB Therapy that same month.
ITB Therapy involves the surgical placement of a programmable pump implanted under the skin of the abdomen. The pump is connected to a catheter that delivers a liquid form of anti-spastic medication directly to the body's intrathecal space, where fluid flows around the spinal cord. Because the drug is delivered directly to the spinal fluid, it relieves spasticity with small amounts of medication.
"At first I thought ITB Therapy was going to do something for me. Then I realised it allowed me to do things for myself," recalls Ricky. "Helping customers fill up with gas, cleaning their windshields, checking air pressures and oil… all of it was possible with the help of the pump."
Ricky's surgery was successful and only minor side effects followed. Immediately after the surgery he had difficulty with his bladder. A simple adjustment of the medication dosage resolved the problem. When he returned home, a persistent headache emerged. At a follow-up visit the dosage was again adjusted and the headache disappeared.
Although Ricky didn't experience any additional complications, they may occur. Some people 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.
ITB Therapy has given Ricky more control over his right arm and leg, more than he ever thought possible. "When I cook, I can open jars and hold ingredients in my right hand. I can walk up stairs to my second-floor apartment. I can work part time at the gas station," he says.
Although Ricky continues to use injection therapy in his arm, he now has more independence and a better outlook. "I have come so far," he says. "And with this freedom, I have a better frame of mind."
In April 2007, Ricky’s pump was replaced during a one-day procedure. "It went well," he says. "I had no problem at all." The SynchroMed® II pump battery lasts an average of 6 to 7 years, and then the pump needs to be replaced. The life of the battery is affected by how much medication the pump is programmed to deliver.
While ITB Therapy is helping Ricky do things for himself, it also is helping him do things for others. "If my story prompts just one person to have their blood pressure checked, then my experience with stroke and spasticity has been worth it."
Safety information concerning ITB TherapySM
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.