Lincolnshire Post-Polio Library - A Service of The Lincolnshire Post-Polio Network
A practical approach to the late effects of Polio
Charlotte Leboeuf

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When Mary Westbrook surveyed members of Australian post-polio support groups, she found that most people reported changes in activities of daily living (21). Examples are:

Type of activity Percent of respondents reporting decline
Meeting physical demands of job, household chores and daily activities 74
Climbing stairs 68
Walking on a level surface 55
Getting in and out of bed 32
Taking a shower or bath 31
Getting dressed 28
Using the toilet 18
Feeding themselves 7

Sixteen percent had retired early or obtained a pension. Of those who were currently employed, 42% had been forced to change jobs or modify their employment.

These figures may not be typical of the entire population of people who once had polio. Members of post-polio support groups may have been more severely affected by the disease and may have more severe residual problems and more definite symptoms of the late effects of polio than other post-polio people. They may also have become more aware of the range of symptoms and difficulties which may arise out of their previous disease. It is also possible that those who returned the questionnaire did so because they had more problems to report and were keen to provide information.

There are several other reasons to be cautious in the interpretation of such surveys, such as:

- The definitions of the various symptoms are vague. What exactly is "fatigue" or "pain"? How does occasional severe pain compare with moderate and constant pain?
- There is a lack of comparison with people of a non-polio background but in similar circumstances. Perhaps some of these symptoms are equally common in people who never had polio.

On the other hand, many different studies tend to report similar complaints, which probably means that this group of symptoms is a reality.

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Copyright The Lincolnshire Post-Polio Network 1997 - 2010.

This document comprises an index, introduction and sixteen other sections or subdocuments. Permission for printing copies is granted only on the basis that ALL sections are printed in their entirety and kept together as a single document.

Document preparation: Chris Salter, Original Think-tank, Cornwall, United Kingdom.
Created: 30th December 1997
Last modification: 20th January 2010.

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