Dr. Scott Wolfe, an orthopedic surgeon specializing in nerve injuries at Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS), has restored arm movement and function in a number of young AFM patients previously told their paralysis would be permanent.
The journal Pediatric Neurology published two AFM case studies by Dr. Wolfe and colleagues. The article was made available online in the summer of 2018, in advance of final print publication in November 2018. The report documents patients, ages 12 and 14, who had suffered partial paralysis and regained movement in their arms after nerve transfer surgery at HSS.
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"We published the case studies to raise awareness in the medical community," said Dr. Wolfe. "Since the procedure is so highly specialized and performed by very few surgeons, most people, even doctors, are unaware that nerve transfer could potentially help AFM patients. But there is a window of opportunity, and the surgery should ideally be performed within six to nine months of disease onset."
Cases of acute flaccid myelitis, which is considered a subtype of transverse myelitis, have been on the rise in the United States since 2014, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The illness, which is most common in children and teenagers, appears to occur after a viral infection. Within a day or two, inflammation within the spinal cord leads to muscle weakness and rapid, progressive paralysis of the arms and/or legs. In 2014, and again in 2018, a disturbing spike in cases was reported in certain regions of the United States.
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Patients suffer different degrees of paralysis, and while some regain function, many suffer some degree of permanent paralysis. No nonsurgical treatment has been shown to be effective.
At age 15, Kale Hyder of Davenport, Iowa was not only the picture of health, but an accomplished athlete. At 6-foot-two, the active teenager played on...
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