Disability Provides Insight into Device Development

What if you could take what you know about your disability and leverage that knowledge to create devices that might […]

What if you could take what you know about your disability and leverage that knowledge to create devices that might help others with the same disability? That’s an opportunity Jason Fowler has as a Medtronic employee.

After receiving his MBA from the University of Boston in 2004, Jason began working as a principal financial analyst for the Minneapolis-based medical device company. Although his position is in the Finance Department, Jason is sharing his first-hand knowledge of a Medtronic device used to treat his disability to help the company better understand and serve its customers.

Relieving Severe Spasticity with ITB Therapy

In 1991, Jason began receiving Medtronic ITBTM Therapy (Intrathecal Baclofen Therapy) for severe spasticity that affected his legs and back after a motocross accident severed his spinal cord and left him paralyzed from the chest down.

ITB Therapy works by delivering Lioresal® Intrathecal (baclofen injection) directly into the intrathecal space where fluid flows around the spinal cord.

“A programmable pump was surgically placed just below the skin in my abdomen to deliver ITB Therapy via a catheter to the intrathecal space,” says Jason. “Because the medication is delivered directly to the site where it is most effective and doesn’t circulate throughout my body, side effects are minimized.”

Getting his severe spasticity under control allowed Jason to go on pursuing his love of racing. Today, he is a world-class wheelchair racer, having competed in more than 140 road races, 27 marathons, eight triathlons and the grueling Ironman Triathlon World Championship.

“ITB Therapy has allowed me to basically live without worrying about my physical disability,” says Jason. “It is a tool that has helped me be more able. It is not saving my life, but it is helping me live my life. And in a sense, that is saving my life.”

Sharing Experiences,
Improving Devices

Medtronic’s Office of Workplace Inclusion encourages employees with disabilities or diseases to share what they know about their conditions with the company’s broader employee base. This increases the dialogue around these conditions and has the potential to lead to therapies to treat them.

For Jason, that means being a resource for the hundreds of Medtronic employees who work with ITB Therapy or other similar devices.

“Because I live each day with ITB Therapy, I have a unique perspective,” says Jason. “My hope is that by sharing my experience with other employees—engineers, customer service representatives, researchers, sales reps, and marketers—Medtronic is better able to imagine and design innovative therapies to enhance the lives of people who need our devices.”

For more information on ITB Therapy, visit www.spastic ity.com/accesspress or call (800) 856-3823.

Patient Information: Lioresal® Intrathecal (baclo-fen injection 40 mg/20 mL, 10 mg/5 mL, 10 mg/20 mL, 0.05 mg/1 mL)

Completely read this information before you start using Medtronic ITBTM Therapy (Intrathecal Baclofen Therapy). This information does not take the place of thorough discussions with your doctor. You and your doctor should discuss ITB Therapy before you begin receiving the therapy and at regular refill appointments.

Q: What is Lioresal® Intrathecal (baclofen injection)?

A: Lioresal Intrathecal is a liquid form of baclofen, and is commonly used to treat severe spasticity. Liquid baclofen is used for injections and infusion into the intrathecal space (the fluid-filled area surrounding the spinal cord), using an implantable drug delivery system.

Q: What is severe spasticity?

A: Severe spasticity is tight, stiff muscles that make movements—especially of the arms and legs—difficult or uncontrollable. Severe spasticity can interfere with an individual’s function and/or comfort.

Q: Who is a candidate for Lioresal Intrathecal?

A: People who suffer from severe spasticity resulting from cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, stroke, traumatic brain injury, or spinal cord injury, and who suffer intolerable side effects from oral baclofen (pills), may be a candidate for Lioresal Intrathecal. A screening test will help determine if you will respond to the intrathecal medication. Talk with your doctor about whether Lioresal Intrathecal may be an option for you.

Q: Who is not a candidate for Lioresal Intrathecal?

A: People who are hypersensitive (extremely sensitive) to oral baclofen should not take Lioresal Intrathecal.

Q: What are the most common side effects of Lioresal Intrathecal?

A: The side effects of intrathecal baclofen include loose muscles, sleepiness, upset stomach, vomiting, headaches, and dizziness. As with most medications, overdose (drug dose is too high) or underdose (drug dose is too low) can occur. Talk with your doctor about the side effects you may experience from your treatment.

Q: What do I need to know if I am using Lioresal Intrathecal?

A: Abruptly stopping intrathecal baclofen can result in serious medical problems and in rare cases this has been fatal. It is important to keep your pump filled with medication by attending regularly scheduled refill appointments.

Q: What are the signs of rapid or abrupt withdrawal from intrathecal baclofen?

A: Increase or return in spasticity, itching, low blood pressure, lightheadedness, and tingling sensation are often early indications of baclofen withdrawal. It is very important that your doctor be called right away if you experience any of the above symptoms.

In rare cases, severe symptoms may occur. These symptoms include high fever, altered mental status, spasticity worse than before you started ITB Therapy, and muscle rigidity. It is very important that your doctor be called right away if you experience any of the above symptoms.

Q: What can I do to prevent baclofen underdose or abrupt discontinuation of intrathecal baclofen?

A: It is very important that you keep all of your refill appointments. This may require some planning prior to traveling. Maintaining a regular refill schedule will ensure the pump does not run out of medication and that any potential problems with the infusion system are diagnosed and corrected. Additionally, you should be aware of what your pump alarms sound like. If you hear the alarm, contact your doctor immediately.

Furthermore, it is very important that you know and understand the signs of baclofen underdose. Also be sure to tell your doctor right away if you experience any unusual symptoms, side effects, or changes in your condition.

Q: What are the symptoms of baclofen overdose?

A: Although rare, it is possible for you to receive too much medication (overdose). A baclofen overdose may cause drowsiness, light head-edness, respiratory depression (difficulty breathing), seizures, loss of consciousness and coma. If you experience any of the above symptoms, it is very important that you or your caregiver contact your doctor right away.

This provides a summary of the most important information about Lioresal Intrathecal. If you would like more information, talk with your doctor. You can ask for information about Lioresal Intrathecal that is written for healthcare professionals. You also can get more information by visiting www.spasticity.com.

Rx only. Lioresal® is a registered trademark of Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation.

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