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Baclofen Pump Therapy (cont.)

What Is the Intrathecal Baclofen Pump System?

The intrathecal baclofen pump system is the way doctors give the drug directly into the spinal fluid. The system consists of a catheter (a small, flexible tube) and a pump. The pump -- a round metal disc, about one inch thick and three inches in diameter -- is surgically placed under the skin of the abdomen near the waistline.

The pump stores and releases prescribed amounts of medicine through the catheter. With a programmable pump, a tiny motor moves the medication from the pump reservoir through the catheter. Using an external programmer, your treatment team can make adjustments in the dose, rate, and timing of the medication.

People with the pump must return to their doctor's office for pump refills and medication adjustments, typically every 1-3 months. The pump is taken out and replaced at the end of the battery's life span (which is usually 5 to 7 years).

Who Is a Candidate for the Intrathecal Baclofen Pump?

Anyone who has spasticity that is not responsive to oral treatment is a candidate.

If you are considering intrathecal baclofen therapy, you will generally meet with a treatment team that may include a doctor specialized in rehabilitation (physiatrist), a physical therapist, an occupational therapist, a nurse, and a social worker. All of these professionals work as a team to provide a comprehensive evaluation of your spasticity symptoms and to establish a treatment plan adapted to your personal needs.

What Are the Advantages of the Baclofen Pump System?

The baclofen pump system:

  • Efficiently reduces spasticity and involuntary spasms, promoting a more active lifestyle, better sleep, and reduced need for oral medications.
  • Continuously delivers baclofen in small doses directly to the spinal fluid, increasing the therapeutic benefits and causing fewer and less severe side effects than the oral medication.
  • Can be individually adjusted to allow infusion rates that vary over a 24-hour period.
  • Can be turned off when it isn't needed.
  • Reduces or eliminates pain and discomfort from spasms and spasticity.

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