Submitted by Cathy Cuff-Coffman

In this multi-part blog series, our Content Writer Cathy Cuff-Coffman takes us along her journey with a Baclofen pump implantation.

Who Says You Can’t Go Home Again?

On March 6, 2020, I tripped in my home and broke nearly all the vertebrae in my neck while also sustaining a spinal cord injury (SCI). After surgery, I spent two months in Penn State Health’s Hershey Rehabilitation Hospital, defying the odds and learning to use my body again.

During the last year, the spasticity and “tone” accompanying many SCIs started to ramp up with a vengeance. Manageable tasks (like my new way of typing) became increasingly hard. I had to give up driving because my right leg ceased bending on command.

In short, I felt as if I were trapped in a suit of armor.

During a routine consultation with my surgeon, he sounded the alarm: What was happening to me was not the norm, and if I committed myself to return to Hershey, he was confident there could be a “fix” for the tone that was robbing me of the progress I had made.

So, on the fourth anniversary of my initial spinal cord injury, I went “home again” to Hershey and had a baclofen pump inserted.

The first day was spent getting a baseline on my physical condition. The pump was “on,” but it only delivered a trickle of baclofen.

Being back in familiar surroundings is oddly comforting. I have the same view I had four years ago, and some of the staff are still here and gave me a warm welcome.

Towards the end of the day, my neurologist held a cell-phone-sized device over the hockey puck sized reservoir to start titrating the liquid baclofen to my spinal cord. This is where the fun begins; he activated the pump, and the first small dosing of liquid baclofen started entering my spinal cord.

In conjunction with that, he started decreasing the amount of oral baclofen I am taking.

Stay tuned for updates from Cathy!