Living With Polio

Slow Healing

Post-Polio Health, Volume 29, Number 2, Spring 2013
Ask Dr. Maynard
Frederick M. Maynard, MD

Question: I scraped and cut my leg that is most affected by polio. It has not healed after two months. (I am not diabetic.) My family physician is sending me to a wound clinic. What can I expect at the wound clinic? Have you seen slow healing in polio survivors? Do you have any other advice?

Answer: There are many reasons for delayed healing of cuts on the leg, especially in older people. It is not an expected result of post-polio residual weakness. However, many aging polio survivors develop other conditions, some related to their long-term polio limitations that may contribute to slower healing. A referral to a wound clinic is a good idea. They will look into possible superficial infection as a cause of the poor healing and treat it if necessary. They will evaluate your leg circulation, including venous flow carrying blood out of the leg to prevent swelling and edema. They are also experts at the optimal type of cleansing routines and dressings for the sore.

In my experience, the most common factor contributing to poor healing in polio survivors is insufficient attention to controlling swelling and edema. Frequent and lengthy periods of having the leg elevated are difficult but can be very important to successful healing. One should maintain a good activity level to prevent new weakness from inactivity, while still avoiding longer periods of standing, walking or having the feet down. Also using some type of supportive wrapping or support stockings when on your feet can also be very helpful. These suggestions can be discussed and considered with the wound clinic staff (usually nurse clinicians as well as doctors).

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