Kansas City,
09:57 AM

Joplin Teen Recovers From Paralysis That Struck Dozens of Kids Last Year

The cases happened around the same time as an outbreak of a respiratory virus

Last fall, more than a hundred kids nationwide suffered a mysterious muscle weakness or paralysis. The cases occurred during or after a major outbreak of a respiratory virus. One of the kids, a teen from Joplin, has come a long way since then.

13 year-old Billy Sticklen had to use a cane last January. For three months before that, he was in a wheelchair.

"He had difficulty even moving in bed. Required full assist to stand up," recalled Dr. John Luce, a specialist in rehabilitation medicine at Children's Mercy Hospital.

Today, Billy no longer needs a cane. He returned to Children's Mercy to show his doctors his progress. Little evidence of paralysis remains.

"There was never a doubt in my mind that I wasn't gonna be totally independent being able to do everything on my own," said Billy.

Dr. Luce added, "Billy did surprise me with the amount of recovery he has made."

There were unknowns, and still are, about what struck Billy. The paralysis occurred a few weeks after he'd had a respiratory infection. It was at the same time that hundreds of kids in our area and thousands nationally were hospitalized with difficulty breathing because of enterovirus 68.

More than a hundred kids nationally had polio-like weakness, what doctors call acute flaccid myelitis. Doctors have linked some cases to enterovirus 68, but certainly not all. Children's Mercy is among those doing research to solve the mystery.

"There's probably more than one virus and more than one condition that can trigger this polio-like manifestation," said Dr. Mary Anne Jackson, an infectious disease specialist.

See the full story via WDAF Fox 4.