Anna’s Story

Photo of Anna on an adaptive bike“I regained 100 percent of my independence.”

Anna Gilabert, who lives in Barcelona, Spain, sustained a T5 injury in 1999. She was well on her way back to independence three months afterward when her spasticity took a dramatic turn for the worse.

“My spasticity started increasing a lot and it became really very, very difficult for me to do everything,” she says. ”I lost my independence.”

Gilabert struggled to drive her car, continually worried about falling and found her favorite pastimes impossible to enjoy.

“I was really scared. I wasn’t scared by my injury, I was scared by my spasticity,” she says. “It was the worst moment. With an injury, you know that if you work hard you can do things, with the spasticity you don’t know.”

After extensive consultation with her doctors and her own independent research, she decided to have the surgery. Doctors explained they would insert a hockey puck-like pump under her skin near her ribcage and connect it to her spinal fluid via a small catheter. The pump would then distribute a controlled dosage directly into her spinal fluid, hopefully controlling her spasms without many of the side effects of oral baclofen (drowsiness, dry mouth). They told her to expect a few months of rehab and fine-tuning of the dosage.

The surgery went well and the recovery went even better. “I didn’t need [two months of rehab] because everything came back so easily,” she says. “It was perfect. I recovered 100 percent of my independence and I felt comfortable. I could lead a normal life. I was happy because it was so difficult with the spasticity. Afterward, when the spasticity disappeared, my injury didn’t seem as difficult.”

Every seven years the pump must be replaced. Gilabert just had her pump replaced for the second time in a “very easy” two night hospital stay. She goes into the hospital for a refill every three months or so, but says the other maintenance has been negligible.



This story is an excerpt from “Baclofen Pumps”, an article published in the May-June 2013 edition of Life In Action.


Story from United Spinal Association