Acute flaccid paralysis (AFP or acute flaccid myelitis) is a rare but serious neurological syndrome. It strikes without warning and usually results in the paralysis of its victims. Most of them are children who suffer from partial or complete loss of muscle function. One surgeon, however, managed to give two young patients mobility in their arms, even though their paralysis was considered permanent.
A still unknown procedure
Dr Scott Wolfe, who specializes in nerve injuries, is the mastermind behind these procedures. In a new study, published in the journal Pediatric Neurology, he details the cases of two patients (12 and 14 years old) supported by him and his team. With partial paralysis, they are now able to use their arms again.
'We published these case studies to get the attention of the medical community,' says Wolfe. 'The procedure is so specialized and so few surgeons are able to practice it that most people, and even doctors, are unaware that a nerve transfer could potentially help patients with AFP.'
AFP cases have increased in the United States since 2014. Usually occurring after a viral infection, it is characterized by inflammation of the spinal cord and a progressive but rapid loss of motor skills in the arms and/or legs. Due to the impotence of pharmacology, surgery remains the best option to treat this syndrome at the moment.
Thanks to the transplant of a healthy nerve, located above the site of the lesion, Wolfe manages to "revive" the damaged nerve. The operation requires hours of meticulous work and know-how from the surgeon and his team, but it is worth the effort. By spreading knowledge about this procedure, Wolfe hopes that more patients will be able to regain their mobility in the future.
Check out the video above to find out more about this incredible procedure...