ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) – Brian Noblitt says it only took a week for his son Brandon's health to worsen in 2016. "On a Saturday we played baseball, everything was normal," he told correspondent Adriana Diaz. "Tuesday to Wednesday, cold symptoms, and then, as the week progressed, had headaches and neck pain."
Days later, Brandon could not use his legs to get out of bed. "I knew something was very wrong," Brian said.
"What did you think?" Diaz asked.
"Your mind does not paralyze."
A doctor diagnosed Brandon with acute flaccid myelitis or AFM. Brandon, now eight years old, was confined to a wheelchair.
Little is known about the rare, polio-like condition that often occurs in children. Symptoms include sudden arm or leg weakness and reflex loss.
Asked what was most difficult for him, Brandon said, "While all your friends walk around and play, it's just difficult to sit in bed and do nothing the whole time."
His family finally turned to Dr. Amy Moore of Washington University in St. Louis. "My goal with the children with AFM was to restore hip stability and then move the thighs," she said.
Brandon would get what doctors say is a first-rate operation that would allow him to leave.
Moore says she is the only US physician to carry out nerve transmission on the lower extremities of children. "I used what they have, they wiggled their toes so I could move a nerve that wiggles my toes to my hips."
Surgeons at the Los Angeles Children's Hospital are also seeing successes in nerve transmission surgery to help children recover from a fight with AFM.
Fourteen months ago, Moore performed a nerve operation on Brandon's leg at St. Louis Children's Hospital. According to Dr. Moore usually addresses children best for this type of surgery as their nerves regrow faster. She said that nerve transmission was most successful within nine months of diagnosis.
Brandon was on the road again during the last week. "It was incredible," he said. "Thanks to Miss Moore, I can go outside, play with my brothers, play football." He said that now he only plays basketball with his wheelchair.
The cause of AFM is still unknown but seems to develop after a viral disease. According to CDC, nearly 400 people have been diagnosed since 2014.
The cases rose in August after a slowdown in 2017. The CDC has confirmed 72 cases in 24 states this year.
In a recent interview for "CBS This Morning," CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield co-host John Dickerson that he calls for a special task force to investigate the AFM. "It's a very rare disease, about one in a million," he said. "It does not seem to be transferable from person to person, we do not see clustering in families."
While the CDC tries to find out the cause, Dr. Moore to help those affected.
"My intention is to give these families hope that there are options when they receive this terrible diagnosis," she said.
Brandon says this terrible diagnosis has brought him new basketball buddies and inspired him to pursue a career in medicine someday. He said "CBS This Morning," he wants to be a surgeon, like Dr. Moore.