Your Child’s Care
The COVID-19 pandemic is changing rapidly and continues to affect communities across the United States differently. If you have questions about keeping your families safe and healthy during the coronavirus pandemic, please visit the CDC’s coronavirus website. CDC is working hard to ensure that the most recent information is available. The Siegal Rare Neuroimmune Association has also posted informationexternal icon about COVID-19 for people with neuroimmune disorders.
If your clinician suspects your child has acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), they should hospitalize your child immediately. That’s because the illness can progress rapidly and sometimes require machines to help patients breathe. You can help your child get the best care by taking the following steps:
Helping your child get early treatment depends on first detecting the symptoms early. You as the parent will likely be the first one to detect early symptoms. You should ensure you seek medical care right away if you see symptoms of AFM in your child. If your clinician suspects your child has AFM, they should hospitalize your child immediately, do a physical exam of the patient, and perform an MRI to review pictures of the spinal cord. Your clinician should consult neurology and infectious disease experts to discuss possible treatments. We don’t have enough information to know if certain treatments may help some patients; the following treatments have been used:
- Corticosteroids (used to treat inflammation)
- Intravenous immunoglobulin (used to treat immune disorders)
- Plasmapheresis (used to remove antibodies from blood)
For more information, see our Interim Considerations for Clinical Management. CDC does not make treatment recommendations for individual cases.
Clinicians diagnose AFM by taking a careful medical history, doing a physical exam of the patient and performing an MRI to review pictures of the spinal cord. Your child’s clinician is the best source of information about their diagnosis of AFM.
If your child has AFM, there are some rehabilitation options that may help improve their outcomes. Physical rehabilitation might also improve long-term outcomes if your clinician implements it early in your child’s illness onset. Some patients have also received nerve transfer surgery (used to repair nerve injuries) in hopes of improving long-term outcomes. Talk to your clinician about these options for your child’s long-term care.
Types of clinicians who may be involved
Many different types of doctors may be involved in your child’s care. Each doctor has an important role in helping your child get better. These doctors include:
- Primary care doctor
- Neurologist (a doctor who specializes in treating brain and spinal cord illnesses)
- Infectious disease doctor
- Physical therapist (a clinician who treats patients using physical methods such as massage, heat treatment, and exercise)
- Occupational therapist (a clinician who treats patients through rehabilitation and performing activities required in daily life)
Navigating the healthcare system and overseeing your child’s recovery can be a tremendously difficult situation and stressful for everyone involved. We encourage you and your family to reach out to others for support and connect with other parents of children who have AFM. For patient resources, including support groups, visit the
- Siegel Rare Neuroimmune Association Resourcesexternal icon
- AFM Associationexternal icon
- Parent Facebook group
You can also:
- Talk to your child’s school staff to
- develop an action plan to help your child succeed in school,
- locate resources they may have to accommodate this illness,
- find opportunities for your child to interact with peers, and
- address any concerns you have.
- Educate others involved in your child’s life about AFM, such as school staff, other family members, and your child’s peers. When people know more about this illness, they may be better able to help and accommodate your child.
Encourage friends and family to spend time with your child if they feel well enough for visitors. Spending time with others is also an important part of wellbeing and recovery.
To learn more about what CDC is doing and findings from our research, visit
If you have questions about CDC’s work on AFM, we invite you to share them by sending an email to AFMQuestions@cdc.gov.