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Post Polio Syndrome

POLIO SURVIVORS STRUGGLE WITH NEW SYMPTOMS DECADES LATER

Post Polio Syndrome (PPS) is a degenerative condition affecting 50,000 people in the UK. PPS affects 80% of Polio survivors, striking up to four decades after the initial infection. Most Polio sufferers gradually recover the use of their limbs after the initial paralysis, but some people who lost the use of one leg as a child, gradually lose the use of the other decades later. This is a result of lasting damage inflicted on the nervous system. The damage can also cause chronic fatigue, muscle weakness and mobility problems.

However, Polio survivors are struggling to access treatment for these symptoms that return even after they were overcome in childhood.

Campaigners led by the British Polio Fellowship (BPF), a charity dedicated to supporting Polio survivors, are calling for the NHS to implement a new care pathway to diagnose and treat survivors.

Many of those diagnosed by the mass epidemics of the 1940’s and 1950’s are beginning to suffer debilitating symptoms.

Kripen Dhrona CEO of the British Polio Fellowship said:

“Because Post-Polio Syndrome happens so long after the initial infection, many people are misdiagnosed with arthritis, chronic fatigue, multiple sclerosis or aging. Some patients wait 25 years before finding out what is wrong. Getting early diagnosis and support means Post-Polio Syndrome can be managed”.

A member of the BPF stated that it took 16 years to be diagnosed with PPS after referral in 2007 to the NHS only specialist clinic for Post-Polio Syndrome, at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital in London. The member said:

“Getting diagnosed was absolutely transformative. The clinic put on a rehabilitation programme which meant I was seen by an occupational therapist and physiotherapist”.

Last month health officials announced they had detected an outbreak of polio in London, the first time the disease has spread in the UK since 1984. The NHS is trying to vaccinate 30,000 five year olds in London who are not fully immunised.

To read the full article: The Times Newspaper - Polio Survivors Struggle With New Symptoms

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