Nerve transfer surgery helps pediatric patients walk again

When 8-year-old Brandon Noblitt became wheelchair bound in 2016 due to acute flaccid myelitis, his options seemed limited, but  Amy Moore, MD, plastic and reconstructive surgeon at St. Louis-based Washington University, created a nerve transplant surgery that allowed Brandon to walk again, according to CBS.

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

The symptoms for AFM or acute flaccid myelitis, mimic the common cold and progressively get worse. Without treatment, AFM can act like polio and potentially leave patients paralyzed. The causes of AFM are still unknown, but may develop after a viral illness.  The CDC confirmed 72 cases in 24 states in 2018.

Dr. Moore told CBS she is the only physician in the U.S. able to perform the nerve transfer. However, physicians at Los Angeles, Calif.-based Children's Hospital have seen some success in their nerve transfer surgery.

Dr. Moore performed Brandon's nerve transfer surgery about a year ago. She indicated children typically respond best to this branch of surgery because their nerves quickly grow back. Typically, nerve transfer surgery is most successful when its diagnosed within its first nine months.

Brandon is walking again and only uses his wheelchair for basketball.

"My intention is to give these families hope that there are options if they get this horrible diagnosis," Dr. Moore told NBC.

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