Polio is a viral condition that used to be common worldwide until the global vaccination programme successfully eradicated the virus in all but two countries. Many polio survivors live with the long-term effects of the virus such as muscle wasting, reduced bone density, spinal deformity, pain and respiratory difficulties due to the muscle paralysis from the initial onset of illness.
Over the recent years, many survivors report a return or worsening of the muscle weakness, many years after the original infection. This is now being diagnosed as Post-Polio Syndrome (PPS).
PPS can include a wide range of symptoms that can develop over time. These can include fatigue, new or worsening muscle weakness, muscle and joint pain, sleep apnoea, intolerance to cold, although this list is not exhaustive.
PPS is rarely life-threatening, although some people can develop breathing and swallowing difficulties which can lead to serious problems such as chest infections.
If you have been diagnosed with PPS or are experiencing mobility issues as a Polio survivor there are wide range of treatments and professionals who can help you to manage the symptoms and improve your quality of life.
The specialist service at Guys and St Thomas Fox Lane Unit can provide a 3-week rehabilitation programme including multidisciplinary assessment, advice and diagnoses. For information on referrals, please contact your GP or the Lane Fox unit directly.
Physiotherapy management includes advice and strategies for fatigue, pain management, joint range of movement, stability and balance, falls prevention and exercise guidance both for strength and cardiovascular fitness. This will also involve assessment and review of walking aids. Physiotherapy can also help with maintenance and management of respiratory function.
Occupational Therapists will also be able to advise on techniques and adaptations that may assist you with activities of daily living, alongside fatigue management to ensure you can optimise your daily function.
Orthotists provide assessment, review and alterations to orthotics and calipers that can give you stability and aid mobility and function. There are private and NHS providers nationally.
Other professionals who may be able to assist you include Psychologists and Dieticians.
The British Polio Fellowship has a wealth of information on both Polio and Post Polio Syndrome for survivors and health care professionals.
Please either contact the Northampton Branch of the British Polio Fellowship, Mike Jackson, or PhysioFunction for information on these groups.
Other services and technologies which can be beneficial to this client group include: