This information is provided by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD).
Acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) is a condition that affects the spinal cord leading to muscle weakness and loss of reflexes. Most people who develop AFM have had a viral illness with flu-like symptoms one to four weeks before symptoms of AFM. Symptoms of AFM include sudden onset (acute) of weakness in the arm(s) or leg(s), loss of muscle tone, and decreased or absent reflexes. Other symptoms may include pain, facial weakness, and difficulty swallowing, speaking, or moving the eyes. It is not clear why some people develop AFM and others do not. Diagnosis is based on the symptoms, a clinical exam, an MRI of the spine, and other laboratory testing. Most people with AFM continue to have muscle weakness for months to years. Sometimes the muscles involved with breathing become weakened, and ventilator support is necessary to help with breathing. The long-term outcome for people with AFM is unknown. Treatment is focused on managing the symptoms and includes aggressive physical therapy.
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