Chronic Intrathecal Baclofen Infusion for Spasticity: Relationship between Pump and Host
Twenty patients with chronic intractable spinal spasticity were implanted with a totally implantable programmable pump for intrathecal administration of baclofen. The objective of this study was to evaluate the relationship between pump and the host. Clinical efficacy of the therapy was evaluated by the Ashworth Scale, the Spasms Frequency Scale, and the Functional Independence Measure (FIM) motor scores. All patients were asked to reply to 10 questions regarding discomfort of their refills, the ease of rehabilitation after therapy, their fear of pump failure and onset of alarm signals, their discomfort due to a metallic foreign body (the pump), the attitude of their relatives and other persons regarding their pump system, whether they would undergo this therapy again, and whether, in the absence of public health insurance, whether they would be willing to pay for their pump and therapy. The Ashworth scale, the Spasms Frequency Scale, and the FIM motor score showed a significant improvement in all patients after the onset of therapy with baclofen. The refill procedure was not a problem in all patients while four patients (20%) considered the number of refills "uncomfortable." Rehabilitation was no problem after the pump was implanted in all patients, 10 patients (50%) feared pump failure, while six patients (30%) feared their alarm signals. Three patients (15%) had some discomfort from their pumps rubbing against their belts; two patients (10%) stated that other people were aware of their pumps; all but two patients (10%) were ready to have their implants again; three patients (15%) would pay for the pump in case of absence of public health insurance for the therapy. We conclude that the implant of pumps for chronic intrathecal baclofen infusion is, today, a known effective procedure. Refill of the pump system was not a problem in our patient population, while the number of refills did cause some discomfort in some patients. It was shown by our study that the pump did facilitate rehabilitation in our patients, and a certain degree of dependence on the pump did exist. Fifty percent of the patients were afraid of pump failure and 30% were afraid of their alarm signals going off. The fact that most patients would undergo this therapy again and some would even pay for it directly in the absence of public insurance for the therapy were indices of patient satisfaction with the procedure. Because this was a small study, we believe that larger studies are necessary to corroborate our findings.
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