More MS news articles for Nov 2001

Doctors At Swedish Find New Treatment For Multiple Sclerosis

November 9, 2001
By Amy Shafer

SEATTLE - Doctors at Swedish Medical Center are using an old therapy in new ways to treat Multiple Sclerosis patients, and coming up with dramatic results.

For 8 years, severe muscle spasms called spasticity controlled Jeanne Schlosstein's life -- a very painful symptom of her multiple sclerosis.

"Anytime I would try to get up and walk around I would have them," she said. "It's like having Charlie horses all up and down your legs and in your back. It's very painful and if you exert yourself at all you'll get 'em."

Jeanne was confined to bed either at home or in the hospital for as many as five weeks at a time.

When she wouldn't respond to oral medications, her doctor decided to try treating her from the inside.

Doctors implanted a small programmable drug pump under the skin in her abdomen. A tiny tube that carries precisely controlled doses of medication to the spinal cord fluid -- the target area for reducing those muscle spasms.

The pump has been used mostly to treat stroke patients.

But, now doctors at Swedish Medical Center are also using it to treat MS.

"This pump will allow us to alter the rate of infusion because it has a clock within the pump, so I can give a bigger dose at 8 in the morning and lesser dose a 6 p.m.," said Dr. Stuart DuPen of Swedish Medical Center.

Changing the dose is also easy, thanks to the computer. All the doctor needs to do is type in the new dose, then take a device and wave it over the pump. Like a remote control, it reprograms the pump.

No surgery is required to refill the pump either. Just a quick injection through the skin into the pump's reservoir.

It's a relatively simple process that is producing dramatic results.

"You re-buy a life for a patient," DuPen said.

It's been three years since Jeanne got her pump. And, she's never had to go back to the hospital.

"Now I'm up and around and I still don't do a lot of things that people without MS do but I still am so much better than I was with the pain."

Pain, Jeanne no longer has to live with thanks to the pump.

The pump, called the ITB pump, is also being used to relieve spasticity in patients with cerebral palsy, brain injuries and spinal cord injuries.

For More Information:

ITB Pump --
Swedish Medical Center --

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