Multiple Sclerosis Pump
An estimated 40 thousand Americans suffer severe spasticity due to diseases such as multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injuries. The problem causes muscles to contract involuntarily or tighten up. There’s a new way to deliver relief.
These days, playing cards with her husband is a real treat for Brenda. She has multiple sclerosis. Three months ago, she couldn’t play cards, or even sit for long periods of time. And she was in excruciating pain.
“It got to a point that it was so bad, I would straighten out like a board and almost come right out of the chair.”
For Brenda, this silver disc holds the key to relief. It’s actually a medicine pump that surgeons implanted into her abdomen. A small tube delivers a continuous flow of baclofen — a drug that controls spastic muscles — right into her spinal cord area.
The baclofen when it’s in the spinal fluid just soaks in the spinal cord area by diffusion. And that’s the area that’s creating the spasticity and spasms.
Taking medicine by mouth lets it travel to the brain and other parts of the body causing confusion and other problems. Getting the drug right in the spinal area means fewer side effects. One hitch — the pump has to be refilled every one to three months. For Brenda, that’s better than four pills, four times a day.
“It means more life to me.”
The pump comes with a portable computer and magnetic wand.
Clinical tests show the baclofen pump reduced spasticity in 97 percent of patients. The same delivery system has also been used to administer chemotherapy drugs or morphine to cancer patients and for treatment of other types of chronic pain.