Surgeon from Greenwich finds solution to puzzling paralysis in children
Greenwich Time reports acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) is a rare but serious condition that mainly effects children, who develop symptoms of a gastrointestinal or respiratory infection, and then lose movement in their arms or legs days later. The virus responsible, enterovirus 68, disappears from the body after it enters, and is extremely difficult to isolate. There are no medications available.
Greenwich Time spoke to Scott W. Wolfe, MD, hand and upper extremity surgeon at HSS, who has pioneered a surgical treatment for AFM patients, saying, “It’s [AFM] quite dramatic, quite sudden, and just absolutely life-changing.”
Dr. Wolfe first encountered the condition when a patient was referred to him whose brachial plexus (the nerves that begin in the spinal cord and extend into the underarm), was paralyzed by AFM. He used nerve transfer surgery to treat many patients who have damaged this network, and while it had never been done before for patients with upper extremities paralyzed by AFM, he was confident it would work. His patient agreed to the surgery, which was a success, and Dr. Wolfe published his findings.
Dr. Wolfe, who is one of the few doctors that treat AFM, feels empathy for the children with these injuries, and the parents searching for treatment. “To see a child paralyzed is heart-breaking,” he said. “But to see the hope in these kids’ eyes and the determination they have to get better is absolutely inspiring and invigorating. And the trust that they put in you just sort of propels you forward.”
Read the full article at CTInsider.com. This article also appeared in the July 15, 2019 print edition.