By: Hannah Josephson, DPT c/NDT
Acute Flaccid Myelitis, according to the Acute Flaccid Myelitis Association, is a paralyzing syndrome caused by injury to the spinal cord, mostly in the areas that control muscles. The damage leads to weakness or paralysis of the muscles. It affects primarily children, and is often preceded by febrile respiratory illness followed by a sudden onset of limb weakness and loss of muscle tone and reflexes. A definitive cause has not yet been determined, but it is thought that it is due to an infection with a non-polio enterovirus, such as EV-D68. For more information about AFM, families can visit https://www.afmanow.org/what-is-afm
Children that are diagnosed with AFM will have many needs that can be assisted by a physical therapist, including positioning, developing a mobility and range of motion home program, determining appropriate equipment and assistive devices, and improving core and UE strength to assist with functional mobility maintaining or improving crawling, standing and walking skills, as appropriate. Children can also benefit from neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) and functional electrical stimulation (FES) to help improve their sensation and contraction of involved muscles. This can also help prevent muscle atrophy.
At Child and Family Development, we can offer portable NMES packs to be used in sessions in conjunction with functional movements to help train the brain via the muscles on how to support your child’s body in new positions and postures. We can also provide hands on gait training, with body weight support systems, to help improve range of motion and alignment throughout the legs, and also to improve and prolong your child’s ability to walk. We can also help connect you with equipment vendors and help to determine what standers, gait trainers, and orthotics are best for your child.