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Seven-Year-Old Diagnosed With Acute Flaccid Myelitis On The Road To Recovery

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Seven-year-old Bryson Ackermann loves to shoot hoops and dance with his younger brother and sister.

Bryson even asked KDKA's Amy Wadas to join in the dance party.

"To see where he was this time last year and where he is now is really amazing," said Bryson's dad Jeff Ackermann.

A year ago, Bryson was diagnosed with Acute Flaccid Myelitis or AFM.

It left him unable to breathe on his own, walk, eat, hold his neck up or move his arms.

Over the past year, he's slowly regained control over most of those functions.

However, regaining control of his arms, especially the left one, has taken the longest. To help with that, he had a nerve-transfer surgery at Shriner's Hospital in Philadelphia.

"His right arm is getting stronger and we're hoping for some progress in his left arm," said Bryson's mom Jill Ackermann.

Despite everything he's been through, doctors say Bryson's actually one of the lucky cases of AFM.

"About a third of kids will have a very good recovery, about a third of kids will have a decent recovery and regain function and unfortunately about a third of kids really don't get much better," said Chief of Pediatric Infectious Disease at UPMC Children's Hospital Dr. John Williams.

Doctors don't know why.

"We don't really understand what it is between the virus and the immune system of the that causes the disease and so right now, we don't really have good treatments or ways to predict which children will have a better recovery," said Dr. Williams.

Before AFM, Bryson played all kinds of sports. He's slowly getting back into it.

"He's very functional right now as it is right now," said Jeff Ackermann.

Bryson still goes to physical and occupational therapy several times a week.

The Ackermann's view Bryson's recovery as a marathon, not a sprint.

"I told Bryson from day one our goal was 100 percent recovery," said Jeff Ackermann.

They said they'll keep pushing until Bryson meets that goal.

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