By Jeff Todd
LITTLETON, Colo. (CBS4) – Cooper Allen’s cross country season is coming to an end. Next up was supposed to be wrestling, but his arm isn’t in good enough shape.
“I can’t lift it all the way up,” he said.
Cooper started to get sick with a fever and stiff neck on Aug. 7. The 13 year old would spend the rest of the summer in and out of hospital rooms. He was eventually diagnosed with Acute Flaccid Myelitis.
“Acute means sudden onset, flaccid means limp, and Myelitis has to do with the spinal cord,” said Cooper’s mom, Amber Allen. “We might never know where he got it from just that he got it. And I’ve read that your whole family can have an illness, but it only effects one kid.”
Amber has found assistance through a Facebook group with other families that either have a child with the virus or have been through it. There are many cases of AFM where children fully recover from a paralysis within a few months.
“I really feel like there needs to be more education and more surveillance of this because not all states are mandated to report it to the CDC. That the only way they’re going to know who has it and have the opportunity to research it and see what commonalities each of the cases have,” Amber said.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment says 15 cases of AFM have been reported in Colorado this year.
Cooper is rigorously working on therapy and rehab to try and get movement in his upper left arm back. If he doesn’t show improvement in the next few weeks he could try a nerve replacement surgery.
“It still changes your life when you have dreams for your kids and you see that those change. He’s still happy and healthy,” said Amber. “He’s not going to let it get the best of him.”
Jeff Todd joined the CBS4 team in 2011 covering the Western Slope in the Mountain Newsroom. Since 2015 he’s been working across the Front Range in the Denver Headquarters. Follow him on Twitter @CBS4Jeff.