Use of intrathecal baclofen for treatment of severe spasticity in selected patients with motor neuron disease

Francois Bethoux*, Nicholas Boulis, Shearwood McClelland, Mary Alissa Willis, Mariam Hussain, Andre Machado, Lydia Mychkovsky, Darlene Stough, Matt Sutliff, Erik P. Pioro

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Objective. To assess the safety and efficacy of intrathecal baclofen (ITB) therapy for severe spasticity in patients with upper-motor neuron predominant motor neuron disease (U-MND). Methods. A total of 44 patients with U-MND were referred for discussion of ITB therapy. Baseline and outcomes data were extracted on 35 patients from a clinical spasticity registry at a tertiary referral center. Patients choosing to initiate ITB (n = 20) were compared with those choosing conservative therapy (n = 15). Results. At baseline, lower average pain score in the non-ITB group was the only significant difference between the 2 groups. A significant reduction in pain scores, Modified Ashworth Scale (MAS), Spasm Frequency Scale, and requirement for oral spasticity medications was observed within the ITB group at early and late follow-up. Within the non-ITB group, there was a significant increase in MAS scores between baseline and late follow-up. A statistically significant difference favoring the ITB group was observed for change in MAS score (P <.0001), Numerical Rating Scale pain score (P =.04), dose of oral baclofen (P =.002) and tizanidine (P =.003), and number of oral medications for spasticity (P =.002). There was no difference between the 2 groups in the progression of hip flexor weakness or in the proportion of patients who became nonambulatory. Conclusions. Our findings suggest that ITB can effectively reduce spasticity and related symptoms without compromising function in selected patients with U-MND.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)828-833
Number of pages6
JournalNeurorehabilitation and Neural Repair
Issue number9
StatePublished - Nov 2013


  • intrathecal baclofen
  • motor neuron disease
  • spasticity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology
  • Rehabilitation


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