On May 7, 2023, Kimberly Kotar completed a half-marathon. That’s impressive in its own right—only more so when you learn that, due to her transverse myelitis, Kotar was once unable to walk. She regained the ability after intensive physical therapy. Now, the founder of the Canadian Transverse Myelitis Association does all that she can to raise awareness—and support others within her community.
In reporting from Montreal CTV News, Kotar finished this half-marathon alongside a very special partner: 7-year-old Mila Goolab, who also has transverse myelitis. Mila was diagnosed at just 17 months old and struggles with mobility; Kotar pushed her across the finish line in a wheelchair. However, both physical and occupational therapy have benefited Mila and helped her to build strength. The girl has been working up to a point where she might be able to walk.
Unfortunately, the local health authority told the Goolab family that Mila was most likely unable to improve; as a result, they would not cover 50% of the therapy hours that Mila has been partaking in. The family is now left to cover $120/hr for her therapy. Through the half-marathon, Kotar hoped to fundraise thousands of dollars to assist the Goolab family.
What is Transverse Myelitis (TM)?
If you break down the name of this neurological disorder, you can better understand it. Transverse means to extend across something; myelitis refers to white and gray matter infection/inflammation within the spinal cord. So transverse myelitis is a condition in which the spinal cord becomes inflamed, causing dysfunction and sensory issues throughout the body. People between 10-19 and 30-39 are most likely to develop transverse myelitis.
There are a number of conditions that could play a role in spinal cord damage and transverse myelitis, such as multiple sclerosis, viral infections, vascular disorders, parasites, bacterial infections, and fungal infections. For a more comprehensive list of causes, check out NINDS.
Symptoms relating to this condition may include:
- Sensations of numbness, tingling, burning, or coldness
- Sensitivity to extreme temperatures or clothing
- Lower back pain that may radiate to the legs, arms, chest, or abdomen
- Fast-progressing weakness in the legs and arms
- Partial or complete paralysis of the legs
- Foot drop
- Bladder or bowel dysfunction (changes in urinary urgency/frequency, incontinence, constipation)
If you have transverse myelitis, there are multiple approaches to treatment that your doctor might take. You may use intravenous steroids, antiviral or pain medication, plasma exchange therapy, or medication to prevent attacks or complications. Speak with your doctor to determine your best course of treatment.