Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Jan. 28 - Pumping Up Paul's Recovery

Although Paul has been working extremely hard on his walking, he continues to have severe spasticity, which is a form of muscle overactivity caused by his brain injury. Basically, it is an involuntary increase in muscle tightness (tone) through much of his body. The spasticity occurs because of damage to the neurons, or nerve cells, that send signals from the brain to the muscles that cause movement.

Paul is fighting that spasticity all the time and this has affected his ability to progress in his walking but also has affected his trunk strength and the use of his right hand and arm. Because of this, it has been determined that Paul would benefit from a baclofen pump, a surgically implanted programmable pump that delivers medication directly to the intrathecal space where fluid flows around the spinal cord. Paul was tested for this treatment last week during a 24-hour stay at the hospital where the doctor gave him a shot of the baclofen directly in that area. Within just a few hours, a physical therapist could see dramatic changes in Paul's spasticity so we are very excited about the possibilities. Of course, changes won't happen overnight. In fact, Paul may take a few steps back in areas of strength because muscles overpowered by the spasticity haven't been used since his accident in June.

The pump, which looks like and is about the size of a hockey puck, stays permenantly in his hip area and will need to be refilled about every three months with baclofen. This is done by inserting a syringe through the skin and directly into the pump. All of this is a little scary but knowing that Paul could continue to progress makes it seem worth it.

Paul's new physical therapist already has told us that she is impressed by how strong Paul is despite the spasticity he is fighting. She also has seen his competitive spirit in action. She shared a story of how they were practicing his walking and passed another patient who was practicing walking but had the benefit of another type of treatment (not the baclofen pump) that the therapist also plans on using with Paul. She was talking to Paul about it and telling how he could soon walk that well too. Paul then spelled out on his letter board, "I'm going to kick his ass."

We expect the baclofen pump surgery to be in the next couple of weeks but we are pushing it for sooner than later as the first year of Paul's recovery is the most important. Please continue to pray for Paul. He is determined to keep working and stay optimistic but does experience many moments of confusion, sadness and anger.

Thank you all again and I will keep you posted on the baclofen pump surgery.



damnblogger said...

Dear Patty,

I met Paul several years ago through a mutual friend (Phil Hollenbeck...I'm pretty sure Phil is eveyrone's mutual friend).

When Phil was down here in Austin last September, he told me about what happened to Paul and gave me a link to the blog. My husband and I are avid cyclists, so we're keenly aware of the dangers that come along with the joys of being on a bike.

I have been following your blog since Phil told me about this and just want to let you know that you, Paul and your family have been in my thoughts and prayers. I don't think Paul would remember me because our meeting was brief and it was several years back. The blog has been fascinating and inspiring to follow...keep it up!

Warmest regards,

Allison Beadle
Austin, TX

Anonymous said...

Oh Patty, the update is wonderful! Paul's determination brought tears to my eyes. Paul you go "kick his ass!" I love you guys ~ Amy Cowling

Anonymous said...

I love the Kick His Ass comment. That shows his fighting spirit. I trust that this pump is going to really be successful. I know it seems so frustrating at times b/c you want results NOW....however, I know the doctors will do what is best. I am looking forward to hearing all about it and reading about how much he has progressed. I know, in time, Paul will be kicking everyone's ass! Much love...Karen

Rrramone said...

You go Paul! If anyone can kick some ass it is you. :-)

Anonymous said...

Pauls comment about kicking the other patients ass really made me laugh out loud and i don't even know him personally. What a great spirit! Go Paul!!!-- Kim Godlewski

tchumley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
tchumley said...


Your walking competition doesn't stand a chance. And speaking of asses, I'll be thinking of you when you're having a hockey puck surgically implanted in yours. Wait, that is what Patty said, right? Well, somewhere down there.

Keep k-k-kicking it, my man.


Anonymous said...

Glad to hear Paul hasn't lost his competitive spirit and determination. :-) Paul, Scott was in town today and we all had lunch. He was asking about you and excited to hear about your progress. We all miss you and think of you daily.
Holly and your friends at MB.

Anonymous said...

Hi all!
Just to let you know that I think about all of you every day and I sure miss you in Anna Paul! I'm so glad that you are doing so well. Getting back to your old activities and past times is a great step and I'm so happy to hear that. By the way, great choice of music for your haircut video! I'll be in Dallas on Thursday so hopefully I'll see you Paul.
Take care,

Anonymous said...

That's right!! Kick ass and take names. We're continually praying for all of you and with love, from Austin. --Lori, Mike, Ivy and Lily Walls (UNT '90/Fineline)

TommyB said...

Patty and Paul,
I am still tracking the progress and praying for your guys.
Peace and Grace,
Tommy from Spin

Jason said...

That sounds like, Paul. Way to go, bud. Keep up the good work.

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