Physical Therapy Helps Minneapolis Boy Recover from Rare, Polio-Like Condition

October 08, 2018 10:18 PM

The Minnesota Department of Health is investigating a cluster of recent cases of acute flaccid myelitis (AFM).

AFM is a rare, but potentially severe condition that can lead to paralysis or even death.  Symptoms include sudden weakness in the arms and legs, and sometimes present after a respiratory illness.  


Four-year-old Orville Young from Minneapolis was diagnosed with AFM in July.  It all started with a cold, then a fever that wouldn't go away.  Suddenly, he couldn't move his right arm. His parents rushed him to the ER.  He spent six days in the hospital while doctors ran tests.

"By this point his paralysis had already progressed to his trunk.  He was weak, he couldn't walk.  They were really worried about his breathing," said Elaine Young, his mother. 

"I was worried if he'd ever even come home," she said.

RELATED: Disease that Presents Polio-Like Symptoms Reported in Minnesota, MDH Says

Orville was prescribed high-dose steroids at first.  But his mom says physical and occupational therapy at Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare has helped the most.  Since July he has been working on regaining strength and movement.

"We are really, really lucky that he can walk and talk and breathe on his own," Young said.

Thankfully Orville has not had any respiratory complications that have affected his breathing, which is one of the reasons he's been able to make such progress.

According to the Minnesota Department of Health, there is no specific treatment for AFM. 


Ellen Galles

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