Acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM) is a neurological disorder that affects the myelin (also known as “white matter”) covering the nerve fibers in the brain. It involves brief but intense inflammation of the brain and spinal cord that damages the brain’s myelin, and has the potential to cause both short and long term effects.
Causes of ADEM
While the specific cause of ADEM is not currently known, many medical experts believe that it is a type of autoimmune response during which the body mistakes healthy cells and tissues for dangerous foreign substances. This belief is due in part to the fact that patients tend to suffer from ADEM after either (i) recovering from a viral or bacterial infection, or (ii) receiving a vaccination, most commonly the annual flu shot and vaccinations for measles, mumps and rubella (MMR). Patients typically begin to experience symptoms of ADEM one to four weeks following an infection, or up to three months after receipt of a vaccination.
Symptoms of ADEM
While ADEM is most common among children, both children and adults can suffer from the disorder after an infection or vaccination. The following are all common symptoms of ADEM:
- Blurred or double vision
- Limited motor movements
- Severe headaches
- Tingling and numbness
- Trouble swallowing
- Weakness in the arms or legs
If you or a loved one experiences any of these symptoms, particularly after suffering an infection or in the months following receipt of a flu shot or MMR vaccine, medical attention should be sought immediately.
Treatment for ADEM
ADEM is typically diagnosed using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans and a lumbar puncture to test the spinal fluid. Once diagnosed, the course of treatment for ADEM typically involves a series of steroid injections followed by a reduced dosage of oral steroids. If a patient does not respond to steroid treatment, plasmapheresis and intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) may be used as well. In severe cases, doctors may prescribe chemotherapy.
Prognosis for Individuals Suffering from ADEM
Many who experience ADEM make a full or near-full recovery within a year’s time. However, in some cases, ADEM can lead to coma, and on rare occasions may be fatal. Potential long-term effects include residual weakness, numbness, and blurred vision.
If You Have Experienced ADEM Following a Vaccination
If you or a loved one has experienced ADEM after receiving a vaccination, including a vaccination for influenza or MMR, you may be entitled to money for damages under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP). Learn more about your rights under the VICP.
Law Offices of Leah V. Durant PLLC | A National Vaccine Injury Law Firm
With offices in located in Washington DC, vaccine lawyer Leah Durant provides nationwide legal representation to individuals suffering from ADEM. The Vaccine Injury Compensation Program pays all costs for your attorneys’ fees, so working with a vaccine lawyer at the Law Offices of Leah V. Durant, PLLC will come at no financial cost to you. To learn more about our no-cost legal representation of your vaccine injury claim, contact the Law Offices of Leah V. Durant, PLLC today by visiting our website, or by calling (202) 800-1711 today.