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 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. AFM can progress rapidly and sometimes requires 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 starts by detecting the symptoms early. You as the parent will likely be the first one to detect early symptoms. You should ensure that 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, but the following treatments have been used:
- Corticosteroids (used to treat inflammation)
- Intravenous immunoglobulin (used to treat immune disorders)
- Therapeutic plasma exchange (used to remove antibodies from blood)
For more information, see our clinical guidance for the acute medical treatment of patients with AFM. CDC does not make treatment recommendations for individual cases.
The Siegel Rare Neuroimmune Association also provides a portal to help connect clinicians to AFM experts. AFM Physician Consult and Support Portalexternal icon.
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.
Visit the Podcasts for Parents page to watch video podcasts, including an episode for parents of children recently diagnosed with 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 clinicians may be involved in your child’s care. Each clinician has an important role in helping your child get better. These include:
- Primary care doctor
- Neurologist (a clinician who specializes in treating brain and spinal cord illnesses)
- Infectious disease clinician
- 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 journey 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 an important part of wellbeing and recovery.
To learn more about participating in AFM Research, visit
How to Get Involved in Research
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 contact us by sending an email to AFMQuestions@cdc.gov.