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The Mysterious Illness Paralyzing Children

You’ve probably heard about the mysterious polio-like condition causing muscle weakness and paralysis in more than 100 children across the United States this year. This week, we learned about a child diagnosed in Greenville, South Carolina. The condition is known as AFM. It’s not new, but there’s been an uptick in cases since 2014.

We asked Dr. Joshua Prince of Lexington Family Medicine, a Lexington Medical Center physician practice, to tell us more about the condition and what parents should know.

Q: What is AFM?
A: AFM stands for acute flaccid myelitis. It’s a rare, but significant condition that affects the spinal cord. AFM is characterized by muscle weakness and abnormal reflexes. Symptoms include sudden weakness, slurred speech, droopy eyelids, inability to focus, and – in severe cases – trouble breathing.

Q: What’s causing it?
A: There’s no identified cause at this time. Several theories are under consideration including enterovirus, environmental toxins and genetic factors.

Q: Some cases of AFM may start with common cold symptoms like a runny nose. That may scare parents whose children have the sniffles. What message do you have for those parents?
A: This time of year, cold symptoms can be common. Do not be overly worried your child will develop AFM. It occurs in less than one in a million people. But if your child has a respiratory illness followed by neurological symptoms, have them evaluated immediately.

Dr. Joshua Prince

Q: How is it diagnosed?
A: In addition to a healthy history and physical, doctors will conduct studies including an MRI of the spinal cord.

Q: Who gets it?
A: Ninety percent of patients with AFM are under age 18. Some children may tell their parents they feel like their arm is broken. Keep in mind they may not know how to say they can’t move their muscle or lift their eyelids.

Q: What’s the prognosis for full recovery?
A: The long-term prognosis is unknown at this time. Some patients have recovered completely in 60 days. Other patients show symptoms over a much longer period of time. To increase chances of full recovery, patients should be under the care of a neurologist and physical therapist.

For more information about AFM, visit

Women’s Night Out 2018

More than 800 people attended Women’s Night Out on Tuesday, October 16 at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center. This annual event by Lexington Medical Center celebrates breast cancer survivors and their families. Proceeds benefit the Lexington Medical Center Foundation’s Campaign for Clarity, a capital campaign to expand 3-D mammography throughout the hospital network. The evening includes a physician exhibit, silent auction, fashion show, dinner and inspiring talk from a breast cancer survivor. Here are some photos.

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Lexington Medical Center Welcomes Johnathan A. Engh, MD, FAANS, to Lexington Brain and Spine Institute

Lexington Medical Center is pleased to welcome Johnathan A. Engh, MD, FAANS, to the hospital’s network of care. Dr. Engh is practicing at Lexington Brain and Spine Institute. He’s an experienced neurosurgeon with specific proficiency in the treatment of tumors of the brain and spine.

Dr. Johnathan Engh

A cum laude graduate of Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, Dr. Engh earned his medical degree from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. He then completed his neurosurgical residency at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. During his residency, Dr. Engh completed intra-residency fellowships in minimally invasive neurosurgery and neurosurgical oncology.

After graduation, Dr. Engh accepted a faculty position in the Department of Neurological Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh as an assistant professor. He eventually became a tenured associate professor of neurological surgery and radiation oncology, director of the Adult Neurosurgical Oncology program, and director of the NeuroendoportSM Surgery program at UPMC.

Dr. Engh’s expertise extends to many dedicated oncological procedures, including awake craniotomy, minimally invasive port surgery for brain tumors, stereotactic radiosurgery and spinal tumor removal. He also has a special expertise in the treatment of gliomas, metastases, colloid cysts and intraventricular tumors.

Dr. Engh has been a leader in the development of minimally invasive techniques and tools for brain tumor resection. He has published numerous clinical and research articles on brain tumors and general neurosurgery. He has also served as the principal or co-investigator in more than 60 clinical trials and participated in numerous process improvement committees and publication review boards, in addition to his clinical practice.

Board certified by the American Board of Neurological Surgery, Dr. Engh is a member of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, the Congress of Neurological Surgeons and the Society of Neuro-Oncology. He joins the board-certified physicians, physician assistants and nurse practitioners at Lexington Brain and Spine Institute to provide comprehensive care in the treatment of disorders affecting the brain, spine and peripheral nerves, including surgery for degenerative conditions, trauma and cancer.