Acute Flaccid Myelitis: What Medical Flight Paramedics Need to Know

As a medical flight paramedic, there’s always a chance that you’ll encounter patients with different kinds of illnesses no matter how rare. One of those diseases is acute flaccid myelitis, which affects the nervous system and is related to polio. This post will give you a fair idea about this illness and how you can determine whether or not patients are afflicted with it.

A Little About Acute Flaccid Myelitis

AFM or acute flaccid myelitis affects the nervous system and is especially concerning for the spinal cord. The disease can be caused by a number of things such as viral infections. Some characteristics of AFM are sudden weakness in the arm or leg, loss of muscle tone, and weaker reflexes. Patients may not necessarily experience numbness but pain in the arm or leg may be present.

AFM can also result in dysfunctional nerves around the head and neck. It can also make swallowing difficult and the eyes droop while the limbs become weak.

How to Detect AFM for Medical Flight Paramedics

The symptoms of AFM are usually similar to the symptoms of certain viral infections such as adenoviruses, poliovirus, West Nile virus, and non-polio enteroviruses. As mentioned earlier, numbness or tingling isn’t a common symptom. But patients may experience pain in the legs or arms.

Medical flight paramedics should also be concerned if a patient has difficulty urinating. In the most severe cases, AFM may also cause respiratory failure. This occurs when the disease affects muscles that help with breathing.

Acute flaccid myelitis is concerning because it mostly affects children as opposed to adults and there is no specific cure for it. Certain interventions based on the case may be recommended by doctors specializing in illnesses of the brain and spinal cord.

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