In 1900 Oppenheim described a remarkable condition in children, characterized by a serious loss of the motor functions and high-grade flaccidity in large groups of muscles. The symptoms are noticed usually soon after birth, more rarely in later infancy.
The muscles of the neck, extremities and trunk may all be affected, but usually only the extremities are involved. The legs suffer from a greater degree of weakness than the arms. Thus the patient may show only a slight loss of power in the arms and almost complete paraplegia. The baby may be able to grasp objects and handle its bottle, but it cannot kick or move its legs. The atony may vary from a pronounced weakness of the extremities to almost complete paralysis. One arm or leg may be less efficient than its fellow. In extreme cases a baby may lie breathing and nursing and incapable of moving either upper