July 23, 2021
July is Acute Flaccid Myelitis Awareness Month! Acute Flaccid Myelitis (AFM) is a rare neurological condition seen mostly in children that affects the spinal cord. AFM can cause arm and/or leg weakness and loss of muscle tone which may lead to paralysis. Currently, rehabilitation is the primary treatment that helps children with AFM regain functional independence. At St. Mary’s Hospital for Children, the outpatient Locomotor Training program treats children with AFM. Locomotor Training promotes neurorecovery in children with AFM through body-weight supported treadmill training and over ground interventions.
At St. Mary’s, our service population includes many children with spinal cord injuries (SCI), traumatic brain injuries (TBI), cerebral palsy and other neurological conditions that affect mobility. To help better meet the needs of these kids, St. Mary’s has begun piloting a new Locomotor Training Program at St. Mary’s Hospital for Children. The program will be fully rolled out in 2019 and will have a tremendous impact on the lives of numerous children for years to come.
Locomotor Training is an activity-based rehabilitation technique that is based on the principle of plasticity and the ability of the neural circuits to relearn following an injury. The interventions in this program focus on sending appropriate input to the nervous system in a systematic way so that it can learn tasks such as walking.
The training re-teaches walking by using body weight support on a treadmill in combination with manual assistance by a team of specially-trained therapists and technicians. Our Locomotor Training Program also incorporates over ground training and community ambulation to promote safe and effective walking both in and out of the home.
St. Mary’s pediatric Locomotor Training Program is the first of its kind in the entire Northeast region. This is especially important for kids like Luke, a New York child who previously had to go all the way to Kentucky to receive this much-needed service. As the program is not fully covered by insurance providers, charitable support is having a tremendous role in helping to ensure that Luke and many other St. Mary’s Kids can receive Locomotor Training services in a setting close to their homes and families.