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Video: Paralyzed From the Chest Down, Triathlete Takes Second in the Handcycle Division of the Ford Ironman World Championship

MINNEAPOLIS, Dec. 12 /PRNewswire/ --Crossing the finish line in second place at the 2008 Ford Ironman Triathlon World Championship is a dream that almost didn't come true for 34 year-old Jason Fowler, who was one of five wheelchair qualifiers. Jason completed the triathlon, which involved a 2.4-mile swim in the Pacific Ocean, using only his arms, a 112-mile bike ride through lava fields using a handcycle and a 26.2 mile run that Jason completed in a racing wheelchair in 90 degree heat.

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"I wanted to push myself to the max, and I figured the Ironman championship is the biggest challenge of all," said Fowler. "My goal was to finish the race. Placing second in my division was really icing on the cake."

An athlete all his life, Jason's competitive career nearly came to a halt when he was involved in a devastating accident during a motocross training run at age 17. Jason struck a rock with his motorcycle and landed on his head, severing his spinal cord and leaving him paralyzed below the chest.

In addition to losing use of his lower body, he suffered from severe spasticity andpainful muscle spasms in his back and legs. His spasms were so severe that he would be thrown backward out of his wheelchair and even dislocated his hip. After consulting with a neurosurgeon about his treatment options and undergoing screening and dosing tests, Jason opted for a surgical procedure to receive Medtronic ITB Therapy(SM) (Intrathecal Baclofen Therapy) in December 1991 as part of a clinical study.

ITB Therapy delivers a liquid form of baclofen, a medication that treats severe spasticity, through a programmable pump that is surgically placed under the skin of the abdomen. The pump is connected to a small, flexible catheter that delivers medication directly into the intrathecal space where fluid flows around the spinal cord.

Following the surgery, Jason's spasms and spasticity decreased drastically. His leg and back muscles relaxed, and he regained control of his body.

"The device has worked tremendously for me," Fowler said. "With my spasms under control, I was able to do everyday things more easily, and I was also able to start training and competing again."

After his motorcycle accident, Jason became a member of the wheelchair racing team at the University of Illinois. Competing on his college team reignited Jason's passion and soon he was setting his sights on increasingly difficult feats. To date he has competed in 140 road races, 29 marathons and 19 triathlons, including the Ironman World Championship. He completed the 2008 Ironman World Championship in 11:29:52 as the fastest American in [the handcycle] division.

Jason's athletic achievements are not representative of the typical ITB Therapy(SM) (Intrathecal Baclofen Therapy) experience. However, his story is inspirational. He is one extraordinary individual who was able to reach a personal goal through the help of this therapy. As you read it, please bear in mind the athletic achievements are specific to this particular individual and are not representative of the typical ITB Therapy patient. As with all therapies, results may vary, and this therapy may not be for you. Talk to your doctor.

To learn more about spasticity caused by spinal cord injury and ITB Therapy, please visit You can also read more of Jason's story by visiting

For Full Prescribing Information please visit

Ironman is a registered trademark of WTC.


Please follow your doctor's instruction closely because a sudden stop of intrathecal baclofen therapy can result in serious illness (baclofen withdrawal symptoms) such as high fever, changed mental status, muscle rigidity, and in rare cases multiple organ-system failure and death. It is very important that your doctor be called right away if you experience any of the above symptoms.

It is important for you to keep your scheduled refill visits so you don't run out of medication (baclofen) and to understand the early symptoms of baclofen withdrawal. Some patients are at more risk than others for baclofen withdrawal; consult with your doctor.

People who suffer from severe spasticity resulting from cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, stroke, traumatic brain injury, or spinal cord injury may be a candidate for ITB Therapy. If you have spasticity due to spinal cord injury or multiple sclerosis you must first fail oral baclofen. If you have experienced a traumatic brain injury you must first wait one year after the injury to be considered for ITB Therapy. A screening test will help show if you will respond to the intrathecal baclofen. You should not receive ITB Therapy if you have an infection, are allergic to baclofen, or your body size is too small to hold the implantable pump.

The implanted pump and catheter are surgically placed beneath the skin. Surgical complications that you may experience include infection, meningitis, spinal fluid leak, paralysis, headache, swelling, bleeding, and bruising.

The most common and/or serious drug-related side effects of ITB Therapy include loose muscles, sleepiness, upset stomach, vomiting, headaches, and dizziness. Pump failure may cause overdose or underdose of intrathecal baclofen. The signs and symptoms of overdose include drowsiness, lightheadedness, respiratory depression (difficulty breathing), seizures, loss of consciousness, and coma. Once the infusion system is implanted, device complications include catheter or pump moving within the body or eroding through the skin. The catheter could leak, tear, kink, or become disconnected, resulting in underdose or no baclofen infusion. Symptoms of underdose include increase or return in spasticity, itching, low blood pressure, lightheadedness, and tingling sensation. These symptoms are often early indications of baclofen withdrawal. The pump could stop because the battery has run out or because of component failure. The pump will sound an alarm when the pump needs to be filled with baclofen, replaced or if there is a problem with the pump. Always inform any healthcare personnel that you have an implanted infusion system before any medical or diagnostic procedure such as MRI, diathermy, etc.

For more information, please read the Lioresal(R) Intrathecal (baclofen injection) Full Prescribing Information and the SynchroMed Infusion System Information. Lioresal(R) is a registered trademark of Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation.

(C)2008 Medtronic, Inc. Permission is granted solely to news media outlets to utilize the contents of this page including photographic and video content for news reporting and public broadcast purposes. The permission granted does not include rights to place the video content of this web site onto any other web site. That and all other rights are reserved. Any request for other permissions should be directed to

    Press Contact:
    Cindy Resman of Medtronic

    Jessica Pearson of GCI Health

SOURCE Medtronic, Inc.
Copyright©2008 PR Newswire.
All rights reserved

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