Shared peer advice from polio survivors about what works for them.

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Brian Tiburzi

Orthotics is the use of braces and splints (orthoses) to biomechanically assist in supporting and stabilizing parts of the body affected by paralyzed and/or weak muscles (Bunch, 1985). Orthotics, grouped by a description of the area in which they provide support, are usually divided into three categories:  lower extremity, upper extremity, and spinal. For example, in lower extremity orthotics, foot …

Support Groups

Brian Tiburzi

GOALS AND LEADERSHIP WHAT ARE THEY? WHY DO IT ALONE? WHO NEEDS THEM? WHO CAN BENEFIT? IS OUR GROUP NORMAL? EN ESPAÑOL GOALS AND LEADERSHIP The goal of a support group is to empower its members with the tools necessary to make adjustments needed to continue a life of dignity and independence. Contrary to the image sometimes portrayed in the …


Brian Tiburzi

Technically, post-polio syndrome is not the same condition as Post-Polio Sequelae/ the late effects of polio. Post-polio syndrome is usually considered a specific new condition. A diagnosis of exclusion is used to determine if a patient has PPS. This means if a survivor of polio is found to have osteoarthritis, for example, that is what the diagnosis will be – osteoarthritis, not PPS. Because …


Brian Tiburzi

The criteria for diagnosing post-polio syndrome include: a prior episode of paralytic polio confirmed by medical history, neurologic examination, and, if needed, an electrodiagnostic exam to show changes consistent with prior anterior horn cell disease (exam is not required for limbs with obvious polio paralysis); a period of neurologic recovery followed by an extended interval of neurologic and functional stability, …


Brian Tiburzi

New muscle weakness is the hallmark of post-polio syndrome and can significantly impact activities of daily living. Some amount of new muscle weakness is likely to occur in about half of post-polio individuals (Jubelt & Drucker, 1999). Muscle weakness is most likely to occur in muscles previously affected during the acute poliomyelitis followed by a partial or full recovery (Cashman …

Evaluation Suggestions

Brian Tiburzi

To evaluate for post-polio syndrome, one must establish that an individual had paralytic polio and that current symptoms are due to the aftereffects of the remote polio and not due to other medical, orthopedic, or neurologic conditions. A comprehensive evaluation is done by a physician with input from members of a health care team who are experienced in the assessment …


Brian Tiburzi

Pain can be due to any number of factors ranging from very benign to quite serious. Polio survivors who are experiencing pain should undergo a comprehensive medical evaluation to diagnose its cause. Pain is most often due to overuse of muscles, tendons, ligaments and/or joints, and primary interventions are directed at alleviating or eliminating the overuse factors. Pain syndromes associated …

Anesthesia and colonoscopy

Brian Tiburzi

Selma H. Calmes MD, Retired Anesthesiologist Many polio patients fear anesthesia. Multiple surgeries in childhood were common for those who had polio and anesthesia care then was not as sophisticated as it is today. Modern anesthesia is much improved since the time of polio epidemics! In this session, an anesthesiologist familiar with modern anesthesia practice and polio will answer recent, …


Brian Tiburzi

Modern anesthesia has become extremely safe, but many survivors fear it because of reports of problems during and after anesthesia. Potential problems include a greater sensitivity to the paralyzing drugs (muscle relaxants), possible need for mechanical ventilation after surgery, and pain problems after surgery. All survivors, especially those with a history of respiratory involvement, need to tell their surgeon and …

Anesthesia and Colonoscopy

Brian Tiburzi

“Do I really need to have a colonoscopy? It requires anesthesia, and I’m afraid of that.” Colon cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer and the third leading cause of death from cancer in the US. About 5% of Americans will be diagnosed with colon cancer in their life-time. Colonoscopy (looking at the lower part of the intestine with …