No announcement yet.

Polio a Thing of the Past? Not If You Have Late Effects

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

    Polio a Thing of the Past? Not If You Have Late Effects

    University of Michigan Health System

    Polio a Thing of the Past? Not If You Have Late Effects

    Library: MED

    Description: Most Americans think of polio as a thing of the past. Although the disease has largely been eradicated, about one million Americans are polio survivors. For these men and women who contracted the disease, many are experiencing the late effects of their struggle with polio.

    April 3, 2003


    Mary Beth Reilly,

    Krista Hopson,

    (734) 764-2220

    Polio a thing of the past? Not if you suffer from its late effects

    People who thought they had polio beat are now experiencing its echo


    ANN ARBOR, MI -- Most Americans think of polio as a thing of the past. Although the disease has largely been eradicated, about one million Americans are polio survivors. For these men and women who contracted the disease through epidemics of the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, many are experiencing the late effects of their struggle with polio. The University of Michigan's Post-Polio Clinic is studying the way age and gender are effecting this population.

    "Polio survivors are definitely an under-served population," asserts Sunny Roller, a polio survivor.

    Roller contracted polio in the early 1950s when she was four, spending nine months in the hospital recovering from the initial phase of the disease, which included extreme paralysis.

    "I went through rehabilitation until I was 18 years old. I had to learn to walk all over again and do as many things as I could for myself," she remembers. "I worked really hard. It almost killed me, but I learned how to come back from that disease."

    Roller did 'come back,' but in middle age began experiencing new symptoms of pain, fatigue and weakness. Of the people who contracted polio in the United States from the 1930s on, approximately 40 percent of those still living had paralytic polio like Roller. These are the survivors at higher risk for developing late-effect problems, or post-polio syndrome (PPS).

    According to Ann Laidlaw, M.D., a physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist at the U-M Health System, to some degree, researchers don't know what's going to happen to polio survivors as they age. This is why there is increasing focus on understanding the process and, consequently, developing the best forms of treatment.

    "It is still not clear how many survivors might show the effects of PPS. Depending on the study, it ranges from 25 percent of survivors up to 75 percent," says Laidlaw.

    The extent to which polio survivors will suffer from PPS depends on how seriously they were affected by the original polio attack. Patients who had only minimal symptoms from the original attack and subsequently develop PPS will most likely

    experience only mild PPS symptoms. People originally hit hard by the polio virus, and left with severe residual weakness, may develop a more severe case of PPS. Those who experienced paralytic polio are most susceptible to severe PPS.

    Claire Kalpakjian, Ph.D., believes there may be gender differences in how post-polio syndrome affects men and women. Currently she and other experts are conducting a study looking at the impact of menopause on women who are polio survivors, as well as the differences between men and women who experience the syndrome.

    "One of the reasons we want to study this is because there are so many changes that go on in a woman's body. One of our particular concerns is osteoporosis for women with disabilities who may not be as physically active. Women who aren't strengthening their bones by exercise or even walking are at higher risk for developing osteoporosis, and that risk increases as they enter menopause. If you factor in post-polio syndrome, these woman will likely have many special needs," Kalpakjian says.

    Patients are seeing the benefit of this expanding scientific knowledge. Roller, who is 55, remembers her first experience with PPS and her attempts to find answers. Almost ten years ago, she started going through the gradual stages of menopause, but also the late effects of polio. Over several years, Roller went to five different physicians looking unsuccessfully for answers about the new, debilitating pains she was experiencing, and solutions for how to deal with PPS. Currently, she is a patient at the U-M Post-Polio Clinic.

    "I feel I have more control of my situation now. At least we know a little bit more about what to expect and we know help is there. And, I've helped the medical community learn more about managing, alleviating and even sometimes preventing the late effects of polio," she says.

    This study is funded by the International Polio Network.

    To find out about research taking place at the University of Michigan Health System call 734-936-7052.

    Facts about polio:

    -Polio is a virus that has been eradicated with a vaccine introduced in the mid 1950s.
    -The virus was attracted to the neurons in the spinal cord and brain stem.
    -Symptoms included headache, neck ache, fever, muscle soreness and weakness and, occasionally muscle paralysis and difficulty breathing.
    -Nearly 2 million Americans were affected by polio in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s.
    -Polio is largely eradicated in countries like the United States, where the polio vaccine is widely available. However, polio can still be found in under-developed regions of the world and among children adopted from these areas.

    Facts about post-polio syndrome:
    -Post-polio syndrome occurs about 20 years after the initial onset of polio. Those who experienced paralytic polio are more susceptible to post-polio syndrome.
    -Symptoms include muscle fatigue, muscle atrophy, joint pain, difficulty sleeping or swallowing, and weakness in the limb that was affected by polio, and occasionally in a limb that was thought to be unaffected by polio.
    -Health professionals are still learning about post-polio syndrome and how it affects people, in order to help guide the development of treatment and to focus on the most significant symptoms.
    -The U-M Post Polio Clinic addresses the needs of those who once had polio, including assessment, physical rehabilitation and education.

    For more information, visit the following Web sites:

    U-M Post-Polio Clinic

    MEDLINEplus: Polio and Post-Polio Syndrome

    National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke: Post-Polio Syndrome Fact Sheet

    International Polio Network: Polio and Post-Polio Fact Sheet

    International Polio Network: Information about the Late Effects of Polio

    Written by Mary Beth Reilly

    Compounding problems

    I am new to this sight and am curious to know if anyone has contracted
    West Nile Virus along with having had Polio? If so what kind of added problems have yoy encountered?


      Mr. Soren Laursen, a 64-year-old white gentleman from Denmark, presented with a 2 years and 5 months history of weakness and pain in his low limbs. He was infected with polio fifty-nine years ago, and then recovered completely with no sequelae. He complained of progressive weakness in right leg with pain on August 2007. The same symptoms appear in the left leg 6 months later with walking slow. On admission, he complained lower extremities weakness and sensory impaired. He had persistent pain on his back and both lower limbs. He got admission diagnosis Post-polio syndrome (PPS).

      Pre-cell therapy physical condition:
      ;; ASIA motor score was 43 points on the right, 43 points on the left.
      ;; ASIA light touch score was 50 points on the right, 50 points on the left.
      ;; ASIA pin prick score was 48 points on the right, 44 points on the left.
      ;; Score of International Association of Neurorestoratology Spinal Cord Injury Functional Rating Scale was 42 points.

      Post-cell therapy physical condition:

      At discharge, Mr. Soren Laursen's neurological function was improved. His general condition was better; power of his legs had obtained amelioration. The ability of standing from bedside improved. The pain in his back disappeared.

      ;; ASIA motor score was 48 points on the right, 47 points on the left.
      ;; ASIA light touch score was 56 points on the right, 56 points on the left.
      ;; ASIA pin prick score was 50 points on the right, 52 points on the left.
      ;; Score of International Association of Neurorestoratology Spinal Cord Injury Functional Rating Scale was 45 points.

      When Mr. Soren Laursen discharged on February 12, 2010, he stated that: “I felt a positive difference which has improved day by day. No more pain a whole new attitude to life, back to normal and very positive about the future where the real condition will show. I can now walk at least 1 kilometer. At the moment I feel it has improved 75 to 80 % and with some more physiotherapy and training I could most probably reach up to 90%”.

      Information from


        Mr. Soren Laursen's medical report


          My dad had polio when he was a child. He was born in '36. I see the effects of the polio as now he is older. He is getting rather stooped, and has a bit of back pain. His dr. told us exactly what is reported at the begining of this thread, onset of late effects. Dad doenst talk much about his polio other than he was bed ridden for a year due to it, and another time he remembers going to the dr. for treatment, felt good, and upon leaving he'd just collapse, he said it would feel like every joint popped out and he was in pain.
          Other than the slight stoop and bit of pain, Dad still works 40 plus hours, comes home and does things around the house til dinner, than maybe relaxes. Hes got the mindset that good physical labor helped him out of his polio (once he could move), it will keep it at bay today.

          Stay safe my son. See you around thanksgiving!


            Both my Mom and Dad had Polio

            Both of my parents have polio. It did not effect my dad early on as much. His leg just stopped growing and is small. He walked with a bit of a limp. He worked hard his entire life and never heard him mention that he had polio. It effected my mom worse. Her left leg was fused at the ankle and knee. She was a great mom and has always done everything she could for us. They both now have the effects of post polio syndrome.

            My mom attends a Post Polio Retreat at Bay Cliff Health Camp by Marquette Michigan. THey have a week long retreat every fall for polio survivors giving them medical information, opertunities to do activities, massages, etc. There are doctors that attend and seminars all week. She gets to meet others and they all share stores. Bay Cliff was was used during the last polio out break to bring the children as the hospitals were full. They continue to have Health camps that run all summer long for children with disabilities. The children get physical therapy and are also exposed to sports and acivities they can do, are taught to do for themselves as much as possible. It is a fantastic place that gives so much. It is completely non profit and provides scholarships for children. If you know of any children with disabilities please have them look into this place

            This is also the same place that holds the adaptive Kayaking weekend that I was able to attend. They have it every fall and anyone with a disability can attend and is free for the last two days. What they do is teach Kayak instructors how to be accomodating to those with a disability. Again, the facility accomodats any disability. I do think there are some restirctions for the Kayking only because u have to have enough arm function to be flipped over and get yourself out of your Kayak. Rooms are accessible, grounds accessible.