Posted on March 16, 2012

Baclofen Pump and Therapists Help Taylor Make a Comeback After Brain Hemorrhage

It’s been 11 years since 19-year-old Taylor Cunningham suffered an AVM rupture, which caused a hemorrhage in her brain and left Taylor unable to walk. Just a young girl at the time, Taylor had to undergo several surgeries. Yet it was the severe spasticity that caused Taylor the most pain, a constant presence in her life for months.

Taylor’s mother, Dori, recalled doctors’ initial attempts to treat her daughter’s spasticity with oral baclofen.

“It wasn’t helping at all,” Dori said. “By the time it gets to your system, you’ve already lost 50 percent of your dosage.”

To Dori, 50 percent wasn’t good enough. Since the oral baclofen had little effect on Taylor’s spasticity, Dori and staff at Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital decided to try the baclofen pump. A device surgically implanted in the lower abdominal area with a catheter running to the spine, the baclofen pump delivers medication directly to the place that needs it most.

“It’s immediate,” Dori said of the pump’s effect. “It really relaxed her, you could really see the pain in her body.”

Dori’s mother credited the baclofen pump with taking Taylor’s pain away. Without the severe spasticity, Taylor’s range of motion improved, and she was able to go ahead with her recreational and speech therapy at Mary Free Bed.

Therapy was the right choice for Taylor, Dori said. After her daughter’s brain hemorrhage, Dori admitted it was often discouraging to see her daughter unable to move or express herself with words. Several months of inpatient therapy at Mary Free Bed gave Taylor a chance to learn to do these things again.

“Even though she lost a lot of things, if we didn’t (do the therapy), we wouldn’t have known what she would have gained,” Dori said.

Taylor’s therapists were just as important to Taylor’s progress.

“We had such a great group of therapists that really went out of their way to improve her quality of life,” Dori said. “I couldn’t imagine our time without them.”

The baclofen pump certainly helped relieve Taylor’s severe spasticity and pain. But to Dori and Taylor, Taylor’s therapists were the ones who pushed her to keep doing more and to realize her potential.