What Is Acute Flaccid Myelitis?

Acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) is a condition that causes inflammation in an area of the spinal cord known as gray matter. As a result, reflexes and muscles become weak in one or more parts of the body. AFM is mainly found in children and rarely occurs in adults. AFM can be a very serious condition as it can cause the muscles involved with breathing to become weak. This can require urgent ventilator support.  In cases where ventilator support is required, the Avery Diaphragm Pacemaker may be able to help.  To learn more about the Avery Diaphragm Pacemaker and how it may help respiratory conditions which require ventilator assistance, and how to get in touch with a physician familiar with the device, please click here to jump to the section on the Avery Diaphragm Pacemaker.  To learn more about AFM, please continue reading below.

What Causes AFM?

AFM can be due to a number of factors, including environmental toxins, genetics and/or certain viruses. Viruses that may trigger AFM can include polio or non-polio enteroviruses. It can also include West Nile virus (WNV) and similar viruses like Saint Louis encephalitis virus (SLEV), Japanese encephalitis (JE) virus and adenoviruses. (Source: CDC)

Is AFM Contagious?

AFM itself is not contagious. However, the viruses that are thought to cause the condition may be spread from person to person, by mosquito or by other means, depending on the virus.

What Are the Symptoms of Acute Flaccid Myelitis?

Only a licensed medical professional can diagnose ACM. If you believe you have symptoms related to ACM, please see a medical professional for diagnosis. The CDC (source) describes the symptoms of ACM as:

  • Drooping Eyelids
  • Facial Weakness or Drooping
  • Slurred Speech or Difficulty with Swallowing
  • Trouble with Voluntary Eye Movement

Patients with AFM have also experienced pain in the arms as legs as well as the inability to urinate (urinary retention). In severe cases, AFM can trigger other neurological complications that result in respiratory failure by weakening the muscles that help the body breathe and/or death.

AFM is reported to be difficult to diagnose because it mimics the symptoms of a number of other neurological conditions, such as Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) or transverse myelitis.

How is Acute Flaccid Myelitis Treated?

Currently, there is no cure for AFM and no specific treatment; a neurologist—a brain and spinal cord specialist— will typically recommend treatment based on each individual’s symptoms, such as physical therapy or steroids to reduce inflammation.

In the case of respiratory failure, a device such as a diaphragm pacemaker may be recommended to assist the body with breathing.

Want to Learn More?

Contact us today to learn more about diaphragm pacing and the Avery Diaphragm Pacemaker, and how it may be able to help you, a patient, or loved one!

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The Avery Diaphragm Pacemaker Advantage

How does the Avery Diaphragm Pacemaker compare to other devices on the market? See a direct comparison between the Avery Diaphragm Pacemaker and the leading competitor’s diaphragm pacing system. We believe the choice becomes obvious.

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Yonathan with his Avery diaphragm pacer   Yonathan was born in 2004 and diagnosed with CCHS (Congenital Central Hypoventilation Syndrome) by two months [...]

Breathing Assistance Through a Diaphragm Pacing System

How a Diaphragm Pacing System Works

In short, a diaphragm pacing system uses surgically-implanted components to rhythmically stimulate the phrenic nerve, which helps restore breathing function.

A diaphragm pacing system consists of surgically implanted receivers and electrodes and an external transmitter with antennas which are worn directly over the implanted receivers. The external transmitter and antennas send radiofrequency energy to the implanted receivers just under the skin. The receivers then convert the radio waves into stimulating pulses. These pulses are then sent down the electrodes to the phrenic nerves, causing the diaphragms to contract. This contraction causes inhalation of air. When the pulses stop, the diaphragms relax and exhalation occurs. Repetition of this series of pulses produces a normal breathing pattern.

Who Is a Candidate for the Avery Diaphragm Pacing System?

A diaphragm pacing system can provide ventilatory support for patients with chronic respiratory insufficiency whose diaphragm, lungs, and phrenic nerves have residual function. Typically, these patients have high spinal cord injuries, central sleep apnea or other central neurological disorders or a paralyzed diaphragm.

The Avery Diaphragm Pacing System

The Avery Diaphragm Pacing System is the only device with full premarket approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and is designed for adult and pediatric use. This system is designed with a number of distinct advantages over other diaphragm pacing systems available for patients living with conditions including spinal cord injuries and diaphragm paralysis.

Avery is committed to helping those with breathing difficulties and improving the quality of life. For any questions regarding the Avery Diaphragm Pacemaker System and the specific benefits of choosing the system, please call 631-864-1600 or click the request more information below.

  • Lower risk of upper airway infections due to reduction in suctioning, elimination of external humidifier and ventilator circuits, and potential removal of tracheostomy tube in some patients where appropriate
  • More natural breathing function that is physiologically more accurate and comfortable
  • Compact design without bulky tubing and batteries, which allows for greatly increased mobility (some of our patients still enjoy swimming and horseback riding!)
  • Superior sensory and related motor functions, including improved sense of smell, ease of eating and drinking, and normal breathing and speech patterns.
  • Significant long term cost savings – Diaphragm Pacing Systems typically pay for themselves in roughly two years, with patients saving an average of $20,000 per year thereafter

For More Information

The Diaphragm Pacing System may be an excellent option for patients with AFM who are experiencing respiratory distress.  For more information, please call us at 631-864-1600, or click the “request info” button below and fill out the contact form. We would be happy to get you more information about how the diaphragm pacing system may help, and connect you with a physician familiar with the device in your area if needed.

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