Johns Hopkins Neurologist and Director of the International Neurorehabilitation Institute Dr. Daniel Becker, gave a teaching presentation on transverse myelitis at the 75th Assembly of the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation together with his Johns Hopkins colleagues Dr. Frank Pidcock and Dr. Arun Venkatesan. The meeting was held October 5, 2013 in National Harbor, Maryland at the Gaylord National Hotel and Convention Center.
Transverse myelitis (TM) is an inflammatory condition of the spinal cord that can affect adults and children. It is a form of spinal cord injury that can result in severe paralysis and loss of bowel and bladder function. There are about 300 to 1200 new cases of this condition occuring every year in the US alone. It is generally diagnosed with MRI and spinal tap. Acute treatments include high dose intravenous steroids, plasmapheresis, and intravenous immonoglobulins (IVIG) amongst others. Dr. Daniel Becker is a world leading expert on this condition. He sees adults and children from all over the world with this condition at the Johns Hopkins Transverse Myelitis Center. At the International Neurorehabilitation Institute he and his team design cutting edge rehabilitation programs for people with TM to help regain lost function and improve quality of life. One of the main messages Dr. Becker wants to relate to his patients is that recovery from this condition NEVER stops. Most important is having a 21st century rehabilitation program, such as it is designed here at INI. Together with Dr. Becker the rehabilitation team at INI designs highly individualized activity based rehabilitation programs that the patients not only follow at the Center but also at home. These programs are then updated several times a year as the person recovers functions. It is never too late to begin such program.
Dr. Becker is leading several clinical trials on this condition at Johns Hopkins and INI. Prospective patients may inquire here. Dr. Becker works closely with the Transverse Myelitis Association who supports and advocates for individuals and their families diagnosed with rare neuroimmunologic disorders such as TM.
At the same conference on October 4, 2013, Dr. Sathya Vadivelu presented Dr. Becker’s research on pediatric transverse myelitis and its association with Chiari malformations. Chiari malformation is a structural defect in the cerebellum, the part of the brain that controls balance. Normally the cerebellum and parts of the brain stem sit in an indented space at the lower rear of the skull, above the foramen magnum (a funnel-like opening to the spinal canal). When part of the cerebellum is located below the foramen magnum, it is called a Chiari malformation. Dr. Becker discovered an interesting link between children with transverse myelitis at very young age and Chiari malformation. There seems to be an increased number of children with Chiary malformations and transverse myelitis in children younger than 18 months. The implications from these findings about clinical managament of children with known Chiary malformations are not clear yet and provide the basis for several ongoing research projects that Dr. Becker is leading.