An internationally known Post Polio Syndrome expert from the US will give a much-needed insight into the illness during Post Polio Awareness Week (3-9 August).
Dr William DeMayo, Medical Director of the comprehensive Post Polio Clinic at the John P Murtha Neuroscience and Pain Institute in Philadelphia, will share his vast knowledge about Post Polio Syndrome, including its symptoms, side effects and pain management techniques, via a video conference at the Spinal Injuries Association’s Woolloongabba office next Wednesday (5 August).
His talk will centre on the theme, Comprehensive Post Polio Assessment Clinics – do we really need them?
“As Post Polio Syndrome becomes more recognised in both medical circles and in the general community, an increasing amount of people worldwide are being diagnosed with the condition,” Dr DeMayo said.
“I’m looking forward to sharing what I know about the syndrome with a Queensland audience, as I’m aware there are six Post Polio Support Groups operating in regions throughout the state.
“By providing the audience with practical information about the condition, I hope to make a difference in their lives that will assist in easing the disability and pain of Post Polio Syndrome.”
Like most five-year-olds, Varsity Lakes resident Lyn Glover was full of energy, but when she was struck with polio in 1958, she spent a month of solitude while quarantined in hospital recovering from the insidious illness.
Polio did not really feature in Lyn’s life again for many years, until she broke her foot in 2006 and began experiencing the late effects of polio.
To highlight Post Polio Awareness Week (3-9 August), Lyn explains that polio is a viral disease that attacks the spinal cord and causes permanent or temporary paralysis.
“The nerves that were killed or damaged at the time of the initial virus attack when I was young were replaced by the development of compensatory nerves, which resulted in partial recovery,” she said.
“What is now believed to be happening is that those compensatory nerves are dying as the result of over use of muscles and joints and a return for many elderly people with polio to the wheelchairs, calipers and walking canes that many had long discarded.
“Many post polio sufferers are now experiencing considerable pain as the result of this reversal. The condition is called Post Polio Syndrome or known as experiencing the late effects of polio.”
Symptoms are varied but include muscle weakness, extreme fatigue, sleep and breathing difficulties.
The Gold Coast Post Polio Support Group formed in 2007 and Lyn is convenor of the group, which meets monthly to discuss issues ranging from healthcare advice to accessibility issues in the community.
Spinal Injuries Association CEO Mark Henley said it was a real coup for the organization to host the live video conference with Dr DeMayo.
“Because Post Polio Syndrome and the late effects of polio are still relatively unknown, there are many people in the community with misconceptions, or who may not realise they have one of these conditions,” Mr Henley said.
“Dr DeMayo’s insight into Post Polio Syndrome will answer a lot of questions for many people.”
For more information on Post Polio Syndrome or your local Member Networks group, please visit www.spinal.com.au.
Issued 28 July.