A practical approach to the late effects of Polio
Unfortunately, there is no specific test which will determine if the symptoms you may experience are related to the late effects of polio. As the diagnosis must be made through exclusion of other possible causes it is necessary to examine critically all symptoms in order to exclude residual polio, ageing and other health problems.
Do not forget that other people throughout life also experience discomfort and disease. All your problems cannot necessarily be ascribed to the late effects of polio!
Some people who had acute polio were not properly diagnosed, for example if the infection was very mild, if there was no medical personnel available to make the diagnosis or if it occurred outside the period of the epidemics. On the other hand, others may have been incorrectly diagnosed as having polio, when in fact they had some other condition.
Destruction of motor neurones in the spinal cord could have resulted in muscle weakness or paralysis in one or both legs or both arms, in the back (difficult to straighten your back) or in the chest (some breathing difficulties).
The polio virus may have been active in the brain stem as well. Can you recall more severe problems, such as difficulty in breathing, swallowing and/or speaking? Perhaps you had respiratory assistance.
Old medical records may be available relating to the presence and severity of your acute polio infection.
It could be useful if you develop the habit of making systematic observations of your symptoms of LEOP in a diary. A pain (and weakness) drawing can show which areas of your body are vulnerable. An example is shown in Fig. 1.
|Fig. 1. Drawing of symptoms
|This person has drawn in an area of pain
around the right knee, a feeling of weakness of the right thigh and
cramps running down the front of the left leg. You can invent your own
symbols. Keep them simple and consistent. It can be very confusing with
too many symptoms on the same drawing.
You can also list activities that you have problems with and grade the difficulties on a scale e.g. from 1 to 10. See Fig. 2 for an example. Put a date on these records. Try not to become an obsessed hypochondriac who bores friends and health professionals with endless details of a myriad of symptoms!
|Fig. 2. Activity list
|This is an example of some activities
this person had problems with. You can invent your own list. Put a
cross somewhere on the line between 1 ("can't do") and 10 ("no
problems") according to the difficulty you experience. This will enable
you to obtain some measure of your degree of disability. You can then
compare your ratings over time.
© 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
Think-tank, Cornwall, United Kingdom.
Created: 30th December 1997
Last modification: 20th January 2010.