Skip to main content

Polio Survivors

Poliomyelitis is a contagious viral disease that affects nerves and can lead to paralysis.  Most people under the age of 50 don't know that polio was once an epidemic that killed and paralyzed millions of people between 1840 and the 1950's.  It was one of the most feared infections world wide. Modern polio vaccination has almost wiped out the disease.

It is rare for physicians in the  United States to see the effects of polio and most will never encounter it in their career.  There are reported to be about 450,000 polio survivors in the U.S. who have some disability from prior polio infection.

My patient (now in her 70's) was kind enough to allow these photos of her left arm paralysis from polio she contracted at age 9.  Her story is amazing.  She was kept bedridden in  a "crippled childrens home" in New Jersey for over a year.  During that year every one of her children roommates died.  She did not attend school and even though she could walk, she was kept in bed.  Her weight ballooned up to 250 lbs from eating and lack of activity.  Her parents finally took her home because they could see her health declining and her muscles wasting.

Post polio syndrome is a well recognized diagnosis that occurs years after polio recovery.  Polio survivors experience new muscle weakening and atrophy.  General fatigue and weakness is common in post polio syndrome,  as it is in my patient.

When parents are afraid of vaccinating their children, they should look back at history and realize how far we have come from epidemics and killed and maimed.

Comments

RecessIsOver said…
My mother had polio at age 7. She didn't have any visible signs of the disease, but as she aged, her good muscles started giving out.
Excellent reminder of how important vaccines still are.
Polio Survivor said…
I had polio when I was 7 in 1954, same year the vaccine came out. A year later they did a muscle transplant to keep my toes from curling under but unfortunately, they removed the muscle in the front of my leg that we use to pull our toes up when we walk. By 1996, I had no cartilage left from walking on the ankle incorrectly all those years and had to have an ankle fusion. About 3 years later, my doctor was 1 of 3 in the US allowed to do the ankle transplant, a new procedure ~ I was a day late and a dollar short and he said there was no way to do the transplant once he removed the ankle bone for the fusion :( I would never recommend an ankle fusion unless it is an absolute last resort ~ now my left knee is bad because my gait is once again "bad" from the surgery and needs to be replaced. At this point, I can barely walk but the doctors so far won't do surgery unless I lose weight. Easy for them to say when all I do is sit or lie down and unable to burn calories !!

But I do wonder at the low number of 450,000 polio survivors ~ seems like that would be higher than that so I wonder where they got their numbers from (?) Life has been a challenge but I am survivor and with God's help, have made it through each challenging day ~ I could write a book and bore everyone ~ lol Have a good day ~Carol
Toni Brayer, MD said…
Carol Polio survivor: Thanks for sharing your story. We at EverythingHealth wish you the best in your struggle with your muscular and joint problems.

Popular posts from this blog

scintillating scotoma

Nothing like experiencing a medical condition first-hand to really help a doctor understand it from the patient's point of view.  After all these years, I had my first (and hopefully last) scintillating scotoma while sitting on the couch playing "words with friends" on my ipad and watching TV.  A scotoma is a partial loss of vision in a normal visual field.  Scintillate is flashing, sparkles.  Put them together and you have moving, flashing sparkles with a blind spot in your eyes.

This visual aura was first described in the 19th century  by a Dr. Hubert Airy who had migraine headaches.  The visual sparks and flashes are in a zig-zag pattern and they can precede a migraine headache or occur without any pain.   The scotoma affects both eyes and closing one or the other does not make it go away.  Sometimes the term "ocular migraine" or "retinal migraine"  are used to describe this phenomenon but these involve only one eye, not both.  The terms are often …

Do Doctors Make Too Much Money?

An article in theNew York Times says the reason health care costs are so high in the United States is because doctors are paid too much. I saw that and my eyes bugged out. I just came home from a meeting with physicians and hospital administrators and the entire meeting was spent discussing the financial challenges physicians face in keeping their doors open to see patients. The goal of this meeting was to keep health services in that community so patients will have someone to care for them. Not a person in the room would agree that the doctors earn too much.

Physicians paid too much? Lets break that down. A doctor spends a minimum of 11 years in education and training after the age of 18. Many are in training for 15 or more years. They are living on student loans and contributing zero to their family's income until the residency years. At that time they earn less than minimum wage if you factor in the 80-100 hour workweek. When a doctor emerges from training (and believe me…

Why Are Doctor Bills So High?

Who hasn't wondered why doctors need to charge so darn much for an office visit? If you have insurance and bother to look at what the insurance company pays, it is always much lower than the charge. Why does medical care cost so much? Is the doctor gouging? One of the best explanations I have seen is stolen from another blog. I would like to give credit but all I know is the name Dr. Adam. He shows this letter to his patients:

Why are doctors' bills so high?

Over the past few years several patients have asked this question. It is a very good question that needs to be answered in the context of our current health care system.
When I was growing up and went to my family doctor, my parents or I paid around $10 for a typical minor problem visit (in 1966). With inflation, that would be around $62 today (in 2006 dollars) (http://www.westegg.com/inflation). Today Medicare reimburses me approximately $33 to $45 for a similar patient visit. When I was a teenager the overhead costs of…