Within this page, you will find Industry Perspective blogs written by the UCA Corporate Support Partners (CSP); Insights from UCA Chief Executive Officer Lou Ellen Horwitz; Practice Management blogs to help you better manage center operations; and bonus UCA education in Educational Insights.


EDUCATIONAL INSIGHTS: Pearls from a Practicing Pediatrician - “Acute Flaccid Myelitis (AFM) – Parents Should be on the Lookout

Posted: Sep 28, 2020
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Content provided by Thomas W. Tryon, MD, MBA, FAAP; UCA Pediatric Section Chair

There is a relatively new condition that we are seeing predominantly in children called Acute Flaccid Myelitis or AFM.  According to the Centers for Disease Control, AFM is an uncommon but serious condition of the nervous system.  This condition affects the area of the spinal cord and causes muscles and reflexes to become weak.  Interestingly, the cases are usually seen in late summer and early fall, and seem to peak every two years.  AFM was first recognized in 2014 and we have seen an increase in cases in the even years, which may mean an increase in cases for this year, 2020. 

The most common age to see AFM is in children around 6 years of age. Almost all of the cases have been in children less than the age of 19 years.  We think that AFM is caused by a virus.  While the virus causes a “polio like” condition, to this point none of the spinal fluid specimens from children afflicted with AFM have been positive for polio virus.  Most likely, it is due to a polio-like virus. 

What symptoms are most commonly seen with a child with AFM?  Here are the most common symptoms noted:

  • Sudden onset of arm or leg weakness
  • Loss of reflexes
  • Loss of muscle tone

Other less common symptoms that have been seen include:

  • Facial drooping on one side of the face
  • Drooping eyelids or difficulty moving the eyes
  • Unexplained pain in the arm or the leg
  • Difficulty swallowing or talking (slurred speech)
  • Unexplained pain in the back of the neck
  • Even more rare is difficulty passing urine

If you are concerned that your child may have developed these symptoms, please talk to your doctor or seek prompt medical evaluation.  What is most concerning is that patients with AFM can get worse quickly and can develop significant problems breathing.  For more information from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) about this condition:  https://www.cdc.gov/acute-flaccid-myelitis/about-afm.html

Best wishes for a safe and happy Fall, 2020 as we head towards the holidays and winter weather. 


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