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August 11, 1951


Author Affiliations

St. Paul

From the Department of Neurology, the University of Minnesota Medical School.

JAMA. 1951;146(15):1401-1405. doi:10.1001/jama.1951.03670150035011

There is perhaps no more challenging problem seen by the general practitioner or neurologist than that presented by the patient who is first examined a few hours or days after the onset of an acute flaccid paralysis, which may be confined to part of one extremity or may be so generalized as to threaten the patient's life by involvement of the respiratory muscles. Several of the disease processes capable of causing this clinical picture respond rapidly to specific therapies. There is, accordingly, a marked responsibility upon the physician who first sees such a patient to arrive as rapidly as possible at an accurate diagnosis and to institute specific corrective measures when such are available.

Most patients with acute paralysis suffer from one of three conditions: poliomyelitis, hysteria or the infectious polyneuritis of Guillain-Barré. A smaller percentage have postdiphtheritic neuritis, myasthenia gravis, some forms of toxic neuritis, tic paralysis, porphyria, necrotizing