Teen Walks Again After Recovering From Rare, Polio-Like Disease

Sophia Hall
December 14, 2019 - 10:29 am

LEVITTOWN, N.Y. (WCBS 880) — A teenager from Long Island is walking again after being diagnosed with a rare, polio-like disease. 

As WCBS 880's Sophia Hall reported, Alec Woodruff suddenly became very sick, very fast last fall. The 16-year-old from Levittown found his neck difficult to move.

His mother, Terri Woodruff, says they went to the hospital where he was diagnosed with AFM, or acute flaccid myelitis.

AFM affects an area of the spinal cord called gray matter and causes muscle weakness and paralysis. The most common symptoms include sudden arm or leg weakness and the loss of muscle tone and reflexes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Woodruff says after doing research, she realized Blythedale Children’s Hospital in Westchester County was best for her son's care and after months of treatment he could walk again.

"The happiest day in my entire life was the day that my son stood up out of that wheelchair," Terri said.

Alec Woodruff
Photo courtesy of Terri Woodruff

"I went for it and I got it and I never stopped walking ever since," Alec said. "Honestly, I was just determined to get my physical strength back."

Now, Terri wants to spread the word about the hospital and this disease to help other families in the future.

"When I brought my boy home from Blythedale I made them a promise that Alec was going to break the box and that we were going to spread awareness because the next kid can't go to the hospital and have doctors not know what to do," Terri said.

There have been 28 confirmed cases of AFM across the country in 2019. The CDC says there have been 596 confirmed cases since they started tracking the condition in 2014.

The U.S. saw a record number of cases last year.