Transverse Myelitis

What is Transverse Myelitis?

Transverse Myelitis is a neurological condition where inflammation occurs at a segment of the spinal cord. The fatty coating surrounding the nerves (called myelin) is attacked and removed. Scar tissue forms and electrical nerve messages can no longer travel effectively through the spine.

Transverse Myelitis can occur after a viral infection. It can also be related to a tear or malformation in the circulation supplying the spinal cord.

How does Transverse Myelitis affect people?

Transverse Myelitis may develop very rapidly, over a few hours, or it can progress more slowly, over a few weeks. Some people may recover fully, while unfortunately others may be left with permanent disabilities.

Transverse Myelitis can also be an early symptom of Multiple Sclerosis.

The level of the spinal cord where the damage occurs determines which parts of the body are affected. Damage at one segment will affect function at that segment, as well as all the segments below it.

Symptoms vary but may include:

  • Weakness or paralysis of the legs and arms
  • Reduced coordination
  • Pain – which may be sharp or shooting
  • Changes in sensation, such as pins and needles or burning
  • Bowel and bladder dysfunction

Why do I need a neurological physiotherapist?

Neurological physiotherapists are specialists and trained to understand the effects and interactions of Transverse Myelitis symptoms. They can identify where rehabilitation should be focused, and work on areas and problems that specifically affect the individual using targeted physiotherapy.

This may include:

  • exercises to improve limb strength and coordination
  • stretches to improve joint flexibility
  • training to improve sitting and standing balance
  • improving abilities with day-to-day activities
  • improving walking abilities

Neuro-physiotherapy can also help by providing support and advice on optimal independence and successful management of the symptoms to individuals with Transverse Myelitis and their families and carers.

More information

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