Pumping Away Cerebral Palsy Symptoms

May 28, 2012 (CHICAGO)

Kim Taylor calls her son Matthew the real life Forrest Gump.

"He will just run and run and run. We have to make him stop," Taylor said.

It's something she thought she'd never see the teen do.

"He was 15 months when he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy," she said. "We were told he'd probably never walk unassisted."

Matthew has had three major surgeries, wore leg braces and received Botox injections to reduce spasticity, painful and uncontrollable muscle spasms and tightness millions with c-p suffer. But he eventually developed a tolerance to Botox. That's when doctors had him try this.

"What the Baclofen pump does is help relax muscles that are pulling things out of their natural position."

Implanted under the skin, it continuously shoots Baclofen directly to the spine. Dr. Louise 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," said Dr. Spierre.

The doctor says in some patients the pump can reduce muscle stiffness and spasms immediately. Matthew started feeling the effects in a week. Now he's traded in his braces for Nikes.

"It felt good. I felt loose. I felt great," he said.

He runs cross-country for his high school and half-marathons to raise money for sick kids.

"To watch him run the marathon and go 13.1 miles," Taylor said.

"If it wasn't for the pump, I'd be in a wheelchair right now," Matthew said.

The pump is refilled every 3 to 6 months, and replaced every five to seven years. The dosage can easily be turned up or down. Risks of the device include over or under medication and infection from surgery.

Some of the pumps were recalled in 2011 due to low battery performance, but Dr. Spierre says that problem has been fixed.

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