Cerebral palsy patients often suffer from a painful symptom called spasticity; uncontrollable tightening and spasms of the muscles. Botox injections are one of the more common treatments of the condition, but they can lose their effectiveness as the body develops a tolerance for them.
A less-known solution is the baclofen pump- a flexible, battery-operated device that is placed surgically in the abdomen of a patient. It stores and distributes Lioresal Inthrathecal (baclofen injection), a prescription medication, directly to the spine via catheter.
Matthew Taylor is one of the many CP sufferers who have used this treatment. Though it does not cure the condition, it dramatically reduces its painful symptoms. “He was 15 months when he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. We were told he’d probably never walk unassisted,” his mother Kim explained.
Matthew was subject to excruciating spasticity, was operated on three times, wore legs braces and received botox injections for years. Eventually, his body developed a tolerance for the injections, and the next step was the pump.
“What the baclofen pump does is help relax muscles that are pulling things out of their natural position,” explained Dr. Louise Spierre. “The advantage of the pump is that the medication is all delivered to the spine so very little ends up in the brain.” Matthew began to feel a change within a week. Now, he runs cross country and half-marathons in support of unhealthy children. “It felt good. I felt loose. I felt great,” Matthew said. “If it wasn’t for the pump I’d be in a wheelchair right now.”