Baclofen Pump Therapy for Spasticity

Spasticity happens when muscles are tight and rigid because certain nerve signals are not sent by the brain or are blocked from traveling to the spinal cord. Sometimes spasticity is so severe it gets in the way of daily activities, sleep patterns, and caregiving, and can even threaten people's safety.

ITB Therapy is Intrathecal Baclofen Therapy, a unique treatment that delivers effective medication, Lioresal Intrathecal (baclofen injection), an antispasmodic drug, directly to the fluid surrounding the spinal cord in small, precisely controlled doses using a pump that is placed internally. Since the medication does not circulate throughout the body, only tiny doses are required to be effective. Therefore, side effects are minimal. The dosage can be adjusted non-surgically by a neurologist.

The pump is surgically placed, usually just under the skin of the abdomen. The device is a round metal disk about 1 inch (2.5 cm) thick and 3 inches (7.5 cm) across. It weighs about 6 ounces. Most people report that the pump is not uncomfortable or restrictive, and does not interfere with their movement. Depending on your size and shape, it may not show at all under regular clothes.

The medication in the pump can last up to ninety days, depending on your dose. It then needs to be refilled every six to twelve weeks, using a convenient external procedure performed in your health care professional's office.

It is important to note that this therapy cannot give you any abilities you do not already have. It may, however, relieve the spasticity that often prevents individuals from using these abilities or realizing their full potential.

To determine whether you or your family member are a good candidate for ITB Therapy, your health care professional will give a trial dose of the drug. Using a standard medical procedure, a small amount of the drug is injected into the spinal fluid. Then your health care professional will see how much your muscles relax over the next six to eight hours.