Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis

Acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM) is characterized by a brief but intense attack of inflammation in the brain and spinal cord that damages myelin, the protective covering of nerve fibers. It may also damage white matter (brain tissue that takes its name from the white color of myelin), leading to neurological symptoms such as loss of vision (due to inflammation of the optic nerve) in one or both eyes, weakness even to the point of paralysis, and difficulty coordinating voluntary muscle movements (such as those used in walking).

How does ADEM appear? Symptoms usually begin weeks after infection or vaccination. Major symptoms include fever, headache, drowsiness, seizures and coma. Although initially the symptoms are usually mild, they worsen rapidly over the course of hours to days, with the average time to maximum severity being about four and a half days.

What are the long term complications of ADEM?

  • Motor Deficits.  The range in severity from mild clumsiness to difficulty walking and weakness on one side of the body to full paralysis.
  • Neurocognitive.  Behavioural problems, inability to keep attention, internalizing behaviour/affect similar to autism, lower IQ, and short-term memory loss.

If you or a loved one developed acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM) after receiving a vaccination please contact our vaccine injury lawyers at 1-800-810-3457 or via our online contact form for a free legal consultation.


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