patient stories


Life after a spinal cord injury

Michele was busy and happy as a wife, mum, and physician assistant. Her life changed in an instant when someone ran a hospital bed into her back at work. Michele suffered a serious ruptured disk that put intense pressure on her spinal cord.

For 4 years, Michele tried a variety of drugs for spasticity, including oral baclofen. The drugs made her groggy and unalert. After years of participating in physical therapy for 3 days a week, Michele and her physical therapist agreed that her progress was minimal. Michele saw different doctors but none were able to help.

Patient Story image of lady walking up stairs

I had back surgery, got an infection, scarring, and more inflammation, all of which resulted in severe spasticity,* When I finally walked, it was on my toes and using two canes. Eventually I ended up hunched over in a motorised cart.*

- Michele


When Michele ran into a friend who was a pain management anaesthesiologist, he suggested ITB Therapy for her severe spasticity. After thoroughly researching baclofen pumps online, Michele decided to have a screening test to see if she was a good candidate for the pump. 

Michele had a baclofen pump surgically placed a few weeks later, in November 2008. She had some rebound spasticity which resolved soon after surgery. Some people experience surgical complications, side effects of the drug, or both. There are risks associated with treatment with a baclofen pump (please refers to section side effects and risks).

After starting treatment, Michele said she walked without assistive devices, was singing on risers with her Sweet Adelines group, and was looking forward to a cruise vacation. She began traveling twice a year to Honduras on a medical mission trip. “It feels good to give back by providing free medical care for the very poor,” states Michele.


Within minutes of receiving a test dose of liquid baclofen, I could feel my muscles relax and my legs straighten, tears rolled down my cheeks.* I’d never be able to navigate the dirt roads in the village without the baclofen pump keeping my severe spasticity in control.*

- Michele


Life after a spinal cord injury

His spasticity started quickly after injury, within the first few months. At the beginning it wasn’t too bad and Arun was able to control it. But as the years went by, it progressively worsened, it really affecting what he could do.

“It would wake me up in the middle of the night. I was like a board really stiff. Not painful, but a really uncomfortable feeling. It would affect my life when I am travelling, it was affecting my life when I was working and teaching. It just prevented me from really doing things. 

When I took oral baclofen, I went from starting at relatively moderate dose to a high dose. I didn’t notice it really did much, to be honest. 

I knew all about the baclofen pump way back when I first got hurt in 1988 but I didn’t think it was right for me at the time.” 

Getting a baclofen pump

Arun came to a point about 4 years ago where he really needed something to help with his spasticity. 

“My doctor reminded me about the possibility of the pump, so we decided to trial it and it worked really well. But I still resisted going to a pump because I really didn’t know much about how it was going be inserted in the body.

To be honest, I do not even know I have it in me, all I know I am spasm-free. My children can jump on top of me and we can play around quite easily. When I teach, when I work I can move around. 

It’s just made my life so much easier and better to live.

Don’t do what I did, sort of hold off till the last minute.* Try to get it as soon as possible. It really makes a big difference in your life.

- Arun



Ernst Jan Nijman is a 45-year-old man with post-traumatic paraplegia.

During his rehabilitation in hospital, he noticed the increasing effects of spasticity. When his medication reached 24 tablets a day, he sought an alternative.

The Medtronic Intrathecal Baclofen Pump allowed him to live his life again.


SCIRE (Spinal Cord Injury Research Evidence) Professional and Community are free knowledge translation web resources with the goal of ensuring everyone has access to the latest science-based information about spinal cord injury. This information is provided to the public by a multidisciplinary team of academics and clinical reviewers who comprehensively review the latest evidence-based research in spinal cord injury. For information written in everyday language, check out SCIRE Community ( For further in-depth research reviews, check out SCIRE Professional (

*Every patient experience is unique. Not everyone who receives Medtronic Intrathecal Drug Delivery therapy will experience the same results.

The content of this webpage is informative only. It does not contain nor replace any medical diagnosis. For medical diagnosis, you should always contact your healthcare professional.

Always talk with your doctor about diagnosis and treatment information. Bear in mind that all products/therapies/procedures carry risks. This product/therapy/procedure is not right for everyone. Contact your doctor to see if it's right for you. 

Results may vary from patient to patient.

Information contained herein does not replace the recommendations of your healthcare professional. See the device manual for detailed information regarding the instructions for use, indications, contraindications, warnings, precautions, and potential adverse events. For further information, contact your healthcare professional.

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