(05/28/12) - A device that looks like a small can of tuna fish may put an end to constant pain for millions of people. It is a pain pump. It literally pumps medication continuously, so that people can walk and function free from pain.
Kim Taylor thought she would never see her son, Matthew, run. "He was 15 months when he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy we we're told he'd probably never walk unassisted."
Matthew has had three major surgeries, wore leg braces and received botox injections. All of it hoped to reduce spasticity, painful and uncontrollable muscle spasms and tightness millions with CP suffer. But he eventually developed a tolerance to botox. That's when doctors had Matthew try a pain pump.
"What the Baclofen pump does is help relax muscles that are pulling things out of their natural position," says Dr. Louise Spierre of the University of Florida, Jacksonville.
Implanted under the skin, the pump continuously shoots Baclofen directly to the spine.
Dr. Spierre believes it's a better option than botox and Baclofen pills. "The advantage of the pump is that the medication is all delivered to the spine so very little of it ends up in the brain."
Spierre says, in some patients, the pump can reduce muscle stiffness and spasms immediately.
Matthew started feeling the effects in a week. "It felt good. I felt loose. I felt great."
He runs cross-country for his high school and half-marathons to raise money for sick kids.
"If it wasn't for the pump, I'd be in a wheelchair right now," Matthew says.
The pump is refilled every 3 to 6 months, and replaced every 5 to 7 years. The dosage can easily be turned up or down.
Risks include over or under medication and infection from surgery. Some of the pumps were recalled in 2011 due to low battery performance, but doctor spierre says that problem has been fixed.
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