Surgery Helps Boy Walk After Polio-Like Illness

Nov. 5, 2018 -- A first-of-its-kind surgery has restored the ability to walk in a boy paralyzed by a polio-like condition called acute flaccid myelitis (AFM).

The condition occurs most often in children and includes symptoms such as sudden arm or leg weakness, and reflex loss, CBS News reported.

Brandon Noblitt was struck by the disease in 2016 and could no longer walk. He was eventually seen by Dr. Amy Moore, of Washington University in St. Louis.

"My goal with the children with AFM was to restore hip stability, and then motion of the upper legs," she told CBS News.

Fourteen months ago, Moore performed nerve transfer surgery on Brandon's leg at St. Louis Children's Hospital. She said she's the only doctor in the U.S. to perform nerve transfers on children's lower extremities.

"I used what they have. They were wiggling their toes, and so I was able to move a nerve that wiggles the toes to the hips," Moore told CBS News.

At a check-up last week, Brandon was walking again.

The cause of AFM is unknown, but it seems to develop after a viral illness. Nearly 400 people in the U.S. have been diagnosed since 2014, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. So far this year, there have been 72 confirmed cases in 24 states, CBS News reported.

CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield recently called for a special task force to investigate AFM, which affects about one in a million people.