Researchers at Kennedy Krieger Institute Find Rehabilitation is Essential in Restoring and Improving Function in Children with Acute Flaccid Myelitis (AFM)

tags: International Center for Spinal Cord Injury Acute Flaccid Myelitis (AFM)

BALTIMORE (September 1, 2020) — The polio-like condition, acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), is anticipated to surge in the coming months, as cases tend to peak every other year. Since AFM began causing concern in 2014, researchers and doctors have worked to identify its cause and pinpoint a cure. While much remains unknown about the disease, specialists at Kennedy Krieger Institute are working with patients to determine the effects of rehabilitation in restoring and/or improving function in children with AFM.

In a recent study, published in Topics in Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation, Kaitlin Hagen, MOT, OTR/L, Courtney Porter, PT, DPT, Rebecca Martin, OTR/L, OTD, Janet Dean, MS, CRNP, Cynthia Salorio, Ph.D., and Cristina Sadowsky, M.D. examined functional changes in a group of children with AFM who participated in Activity Based Restoration Therapy (ABRT) in an inpatient setting from 2014-2018. The researchers found that children with AFM who participated in ABRT increased muscle strength across all muscle groups and made functional gains across all outcome measures.

“The results of the study support the essential role of rehabilitation in the long-term care of children with AFM and residual neurologic deficit,” said Sadowsky. “We agree with the CDC’s recent announcement on AFM that early recognition and appropriate neurologic, medical and rehabilitative care lead to best outcomes in these children."

The children included in the study were assessed using the Functional Independence Measure for Children (WeeFIM®), Manual Muscle Testing (MMT), Spinal Cord Independence Measure (SCIM), and the Physical Abilities and Mobility Scale (PAMS) as part of routine clinical care; the Modified Rankin Scale for Neurologic Disability was completed retrospectively.

Learn more about AFM on the Kennedy Krieger site.

About Kennedy Krieger Institute:  

Kennedy Krieger Institute, an internationally known, non-profit organization located in the greater Baltimore/Washington, D.C. region, transforms the lives of more than 25,000 individuals a year through inpatient and outpatient medical, behavioral health and wellness therapies, home and community services, school-based programs, training and education for professionals and advocacy. Kennedy Krieger provides a wide range of services for children, adolescents and adults with diseases, disorders or injuries that impact the nervous system, ranging from mild to severe. The Institute is home to a team of investigators who contribute to the understanding of how disorders develop, while at the same time pioneer new interventions and methods of early diagnosis, prevention and treatment. Visit for more information.    


Grace Clark
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