Post Polio Syndrome – Management and Treatment in Primary Care
The Post Polio Support Group in Ireland has published a book entitled “Post Polio Syndrome – Management and Treatment in Primary Care”. Written by medical professionals, including a doctor, physiotherapist, occupational therapist and speech therapist it allows polio Survivors to discover more about their condition, diagnosis and treatment. Although only published in English it is free to download and reproduce with due acknowledgement being given. To discover more go to http://www.ppsg.ie/publications_postpolio.html
English, French (Français), Dutch & German (Deutsch)
By Dr. Peter Brauer
When the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared Europe as free of polio on the 21st June 2002, this was, no doubt, the most welcome result of a successful world-wide vaccination campaign to eradicate a disease that had been nearly forgotten. Except for the victims and a handful of medical doctors hardly anybody remembers anything about it. Therefore it comes as a huge surprise when tens of years later patients with a polio history suddenly face new problems very similar or / and different to those experienced in the acute stage of the polio infection , these new symptoms leading inevitably to a progressive deterioration of their already more or less affected state of health. In spite of intensive medical efforts the cause of this cannot be found. Attempts at treatments fail most of the time or even speed up the deterioration. A really truly horror scenario starts for the affected people in trying to find medical help .
For more than twenty years, very gradually, one has come to recognise that polio in its convalescence stage represents an inherent invisible “trap”. The affected and reduced nerve/muscle system is “repaired” to a degree where sufficient training enables it to function and move relatively normally with fewer nerves and muscles. Due to this reduced number they must, even under normal circumstances, work up to 10 times as hard, functioning for years and tens of years at their very limit. Then, eventually, regeneration and recovery abilities fail – pain, exhaustion, fatigue are warning signals, dying of nerves and muscles being the final stage. Important regulatory functions of the brain are affected , such as e.g. breathing.
In this way polio comes back a second time in the form of its own pattern of disease which with its many symptoms can be summarised as “ post-polio syndrome”, abbreviated PPS. The beginning of PPS goes unnoticed until a more serious level of problems occurs , which varies from case to case. As long as this is not recognised nor considered by either the patient or the doctor there is no way of providing any help. If after a number of physical examinations and laboratory tests no other disease can be found many doctors diagnose the patient as having a psychosomatic or imaginary disease and fail to provide the urgently needed treatment. PPS can be treated to a certain point but cannot be healed. If the effects of the old polio infection is not taken into account as being the cause of the problems and therefore the new symptoms misjudged it is inevitable that the wrong treatment leads to disastrous results. Unfortunately a lot of people do not know that they lived through a polio infection because it passed asymptomatic, e.g. flu-like symptoms. Even these people can get PPS, a fact which a lot of medical professionals are quite unaware of.
Doctors need to know about PPS in order to be able to help. But not only does this apply to doctors specialising in different areas of medicine, but also to physiotherapists, rehabilitation centres, to the medical and orthopaedic technology, to people providing health certificates, and last not least to the national health system, insurance companies, pension, health and social security systems.
At present the estimated figure of people suffering from the postpolio syndrome is estimated at 1 Mio people in Europe – the unknown figure is supposed to be much higher. Unfortunately there rarely is a conscious cooperation or networking between all the above areas of health care down to the non-medical staff, and they are therefore not to blame for ignorance. Here the patient is called upon to provide information. In his own interest he should inform himself about his own symptoms and to pass on medical information to his doctor etc. The European Polio Union and their national organisations as well as all their associated self-help and support groups (addresses and links can be found on www.europeanpolio.eu) will help the patient to the best of their abilities.
ATTENTION: Do not forget immunisation !! Global travelling and migration will necessitate protection by vaccination more than ever, POLIO STILL EXISTS !!!
Author of this article :
Dr. med. Peter Brauer is the scientific adviser to the Polio Group of the Schleswig-Holstein Self-Help Group e.V. and member of the Medical Scientific Advisory Board to the Bundesverband Poliomyelitis e.V. Germany www.polio.sh
CODIGO G "14"We thanks Dr. Peter Brawer for letting us publish and for his support to our organization Post Polio Litaff, Association A.C _APPLAC