Background and Purpose: Transverse myelitis (TM) is a rare neurological diagnosis found in 1-4 per million people. Rehabilitation is recommended secondary to steroid treatment. There is limited clinical research on physical therapy (PT) for TM. The purpose of this case report is to present PT examination and management strategies for a patient with TM.
Case Description: A 25-year-old female patient diagnosed with TM was referred to PT. She presented foot drop causing ataxic gait, decreased sensation in bilateral lower extremities, significant fatigue, and low back pain. The patient required significant rest time between all tests and measures due to severely increased fatigue. PT plan of care was focused on therapeutic exercises per patient tolerance, passive range of motion (ROM) administered by the therapist, and gait training when activity tolerance was increased.
Outcomes: The patient was able to tolerate bouts of exercise as prescribed through home exercise program. She responded very well to passive ROM treatment during breaks between exercises to maintain ROM and decrease rigidity. Active ROM exercise was used to build activity tolerance while being mindful of limited ability due to fatigue. Upon increased activity tolerance, the patient was able to tolerate gait training with multiple breaks and maintain corrected gait when addressed during treatment.
Discussion: PT intervention was helpful for this patient with TM. Breaking down functional activities based on patient tolerance is important when treating people with TM. More experimental research is needed to support the benefits of PT for TM.
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