Rotarians learn about Intrathecal Care Services

CROWLEY – It isn’t often that Crowley residents get to learn that they are on the cutting edge of something.

But as it turns out, Crowley houses one of only two companies that bring intrathecal care to comfort of a patient’s home.

Teri Bier, co-owner of Intrathecal Care Services (ICS) of Louisiana, spoke Tuesday to the Rotary Club of Crowley about the company she and her sister, Cynthia Becker, started in June 2010 and to bring awareness to ICS of Louisiana.

And what has made ICS of Louisiana so attractive to would be patients is its flexibility. It offers its services to patients 24 hours per day, seven days per week.

“It is likely we can accommodate any patient’s schedule,” said Bier.

ICS of Louisiana specializes in intrathecal infusion therapy and is relatively new across the United States with New Jersey housing the only other similar company.

Intrathecal infusion therapy is used in two main, FDA approved areas–spasticity and chronic pain.

The first, spasticity, typically arises from a spinal cord injury or multiple sclerosis when of spinal origin and storkes, brain injuries and cerebral palsy when of cerebral origin.

The potential goals of spasticity management through intrathecal infusion therapy are important to note, according to Bier. For example, it can decrease spasticity, improve functional ability and independence, ease rehabilitation procedures, save caregivers’ time and decrease pain associated with spasticity.

On the other side is chronic pain. There, the benefits of intrathecal therapy have proven to be also important to would-be patients.

They include:

- Pain relief for patients who have not received adequate relief with conventional therapies.

- May reduce adverse effects from oral opioids such as nausea, vomiting, sedation and constipation.

- Patient control of medication within physician-set limits.

One of the biggest potential benefits though for intrathecal therapy in chronic pain patients is the possibility of decreasing or even eliminating the use of oral analgesics.

Overall, one milligram of morphine in an intrathecal daily dose is the equivalent of 300 milligrams of morphine taken orally, and the distribution is more centrally located and doesn’t have to be passed throughout the body to get to where it is needed, which is very good news for many who fear becoming addicted to pain medication.

“The goal of these pumps is to eliminate as much need for orally taken drugs as possible,” said Bier. “It can’t always be done, but when it can the patients are happy about that.

“The patients I work with, particularly the older ones don’t want to become addicts to pain medication and with the high dosage of pain medication they have to take, they are afraid of becoming addicts. So it is definitely an advantage.”

The term intrathecal refers to the area around the spine that the intrathecal pump delivers medication to. Medication delivery can be done at either a constant rate or a variable rate.

Using an implantable, programmable pump, precise amounts of medication are delivered directly to a patient’s site of action at the spinal cord via the cerebrospinal fluid.

ICS of Louisiana has a full staff of registered nurses (RNs) that are specifically trained for intrathecal pain and spasm care and use of intrathecal pumps. They, along with the pharmacist, are available at all times to answer questions and concerns about pumps and medications, as well as side effects and changes.

Currently, ICS of Louisiana is continuing to try and get the word out to physicians and would-be patients about the company and its services. The pumps themselves have been around for several decades and now it is more about allowing more people to understand the good intrathecal care can provide.

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