An insulin pump is a Blackberry sized gadget that delivers a continuous stream of insulin to the blood with a little extra at mealtime. The pump is discreet, and can help control blood sugar without adhering to a restrictive eating schedule.
Thousands of diabetic kids got a much-anticipated boost from the provincial government last week, when Finance Minister Dwight Duncan announced Ontario will spend $12 million to pay for the pump and associated supplies for 6,500 young people– becoming the first province to do so.
Diabetes advocates applauded the move, saying the pump can prevent life-threatening complication of diabetes, but was out of financial reach for many patients.
The insulin pump costs approximately $6,000, with an additional $300 per month for supplies. Though pricier than traditional diabetes therapies, the pump can do a much better job of regulating blood sugar when used properly. Erratic blood glucose levels can lead to serious complications including heart attack, stroke, kidney disease, blindness and limb amputation.
Though the current insulin pumps take some work. Researchers are working towards developing a device that acts like an external pancreas– constantly monitoring blood sugar and releasing precisely the right amount of insulin to keep it on the level– but they’re not there yet. Until the so-called Smart Pump appears, diabetics will still have to calculate the amount of carbohydrates in their meals and program the pump to give them the right amount of insulin while eating.