What is the role of physical therapy in the treatment of West Nile virus infection?

Updated: Apr 23, 2020
  • Author: Jess D Salinas, Jr, MD; Chief Editor: Elizabeth A Moberg-Wolff, MD  more...
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Answer

Brain injury from West Nile virus encephalitis or meningitis can result in cognitive, gross motor, and fine motor delays. Because infected patients have varying degrees of functional deficits, treatment programs must be individualized. Comprehensive rehabilitation using a team consisting of a physiatrist, nurse, physical therapist, occupational therapist, speech therapist, social worker/case manager, and neuropsychologist achieves best outcomes.

The physical therapist can partially address the problems of increased muscle tone, weakness, decreased sensation, and poor endurance. Mobility training, transfer training, and gait training are usually implemented, with range of motion and proper positioning attended to as well. Physical therapists are also important in providing exercises for muscle reeducation and for the improvement of strength, endurance, coordination, and balance, with the goal of returning the patient to independent function.


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