The Rehabilitation of Children with Anti–N-methyl-D-aspartate–Receptor Encephalitis: A Case Series

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Anti–N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA)–receptor encephalitis is a serious, complex, and potentially fatal disease in children. Children with this condition frequently present with altered mental status, rapid functional deterioration, and seizures. Despite aggressive treatment with immune therapy such as corticosteroids, intravenous immunoglobin, and plasmapheresis, children often need extensive rehabilitative services and can be left with lasting deficits. In this case series, we report on six known consecutive pediatric cases of N-methyl-D-aspartate–receptor antibody encephalitis in Northern California requiring comprehensive inpatient rehabilitation. The children presented with a variety of symptoms and had waxing and waning clinical courses. All children progressed well through their rehabilitation programs but were discharged home with persistent functional deficits. At follow-up, all but one child had lasting deficits. Because of the complicated management and extensive rehabilitation needs of children with anti–N-methyl-D-aspartate–receptor encephalitis, physiatrists and other rehabilitation providers should be knowledgeable about this complex condition.

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