Fowler Boy Recovers from Paralysis Following Bout With West Nile Virus

By: Anthony Sabella Email
By: Anthony Sabella Email

Watch Travis Thelen play his favorite sport, basketball, and you'll see he's your typical ten-year-old, but nine months ago, Travis' future in any sport was up in the air.

It started when he experienced flu-like symptoms, a headache and a fever. Eventually, those went away and were replaced with pain in his legs that lasted several weeks.

"The fifth week, he was falling down," said Travis' mom, Marti. "Within three days, he wasn't walking at all."

After several failed visits to the doctor and chiropractor, the Thelen family made the trip to Sparrow Hospital.

"They got confirmation that it was the West Nile Virus," said Marti Thelen. "At that point, they said there was nothing they could do."

West Nile is a virus transferred by mosquitoes that in severe cases can affect the brain and spinal cord. Travis' case resulted in paralysis that soon spread to his arms. A return trip to the hospital resulted in several nights of treatment to stop the spread.

While Travis was in the hospital, he was paid a visit by members of the Michigan State Basketball team and that was just the beginning of the support.

"The cards, the gift cards, the prayers. We just can't get over it...we'll never get over it," said Thelen.

After the hospital came physical therapy, with no guarantees of if or when he would walk again.

"Little by little, he could do more," said Thelen. "He could wiggle a toe, he could slightly lift the foot where you could barely see it."

By November, Travis was walking. Fast-forward nine-months and he's almost back to normal and his family couldn't be more relieved.

"He's our little walking miracle," said Thelen.

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