The Symptoms of Infantile Paralysis

Sudden paralysis of the muscles of one or more limbs, or of a single group of muscles; subsequent wasting of the affected muscles.

This disease is a form of inflammation of a certain portion of the spinal cord; and it often occurs during teething, frequently also during an attack of measles, scarlatina, or other acute disease. Sometime only a single muscles is affected. The muscles of the leg are more likely to suffer than any other part of the body. After the paralysis occurs, rapid wasting of the muscle takes place. The limb does not entirely cease to grow, but its growth is greatly retarded. After a time, the affected muscles undergo fatty degeneration.

The Treatment of Infantile Paralysis

When fatty degeneration has occurred, little or no improvement can be obtained. The satisfactory treatment of infantile paralysis depends upon early attention to the disease. During the first few weeks after paralysis first occurs, ice should be applied to the spine several hours each day, for the purpose of limiting the inflammation as much as possible. The patient should also be kept quiet.

After the inflammation is subdued, electricity should be applied to the affected muscles, together with massage. In severe cases, the faradic current will not cause contraction of the muscles and galvanism must be used first. Very strong currents are sometimes necessary. The current should be frequently interrupted by withdrawing and replacing one of the electrodes, as contraction occurs only at the beginning and breaking off of the current. In curable cases, contraction may be produced by the faradic current, after galvanism has been employed for some time, and it should be used when this stage is reached. Cases in which contraction cannot be produced by either form of electricity are hopeless. Besides the use of electricity, the affected muscles should be vigorously rubbed and kneaded daily, and should be exercised, by the Swedish, movements, while the patient is requested to make efforts to use them. Alternate hot and cold sponging, applied daily, is also a valuable measure of treatment. For incurable cases, apparatus of various sorts have been devised, by means of which elastic bands in some degree supply the place of the affected muscles.