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Post-polio syndrome (PPS) is a condition that can affect polio survivors decades after they recover from their initial poliovirus infection. It is characterized by a set of health problems, such as muscle weakness, fatigue (mental and physical), and pain from joint deterioration, that begins about 15 to 40 years after the initial poliovirus infection. Post-polio syndrome affects between 25 and 40 out of every 100 polio survivors.
Typically, polio survivors start to experience gradual new weakening in muscles that were previously affected by the polio infection. The most common symptoms include slowly progressive muscle weakness, fatigue (both generalized and muscular), and a gradual decrease in the size of muscles (muscle atrophy). Pain from joint degeneration and increasing skeletal deformities such as scoliosis (curvature of the spine) is common and may precede the weakness and muscle atrophy. Some individuals experience only minor symptoms while others develop visible muscle weakness and atrophy.
Diagnosing post-polio syndrome relies nearly entirely on clinical information. There are no laboratory tests specific for this condition and symptoms vary greatly among individuals. Physicians diagnose post-polio syndrome after completing a comprehensive medical history and physical examination, and by excluding other disorders that could explain the symptoms.
Physicians look for the following criteria when diagnosing post-polio syndrome:
Polio survivors with new symptoms resembling post-polio symptoms should consider seeking treatment from a physician trained in neuromuscular disorders.
There are currently no effective pharmaceutical treatments that can stop deterioration or reverse the deficits caused by the syndrome itself. However, a number of controlled studies have demonstrated that non-fatiguing exercises may improve muscle strength and reduce tiredness. Most of the clinical trials in post-polio syndrome have focused on finding safe therapies that could reduce symptoms and improve quality of life.
Post-polio syndrome is rarely life-threatening, but the symptoms can significantly interfere with an individual's ability to function independently. Respiratory muscle weakness, for instance, can result in trouble with proper breathing, affecting daytime functions and sleep. Weakness in swallowing muscles can result in aspiration of food and liquids into the lungs and lead to pneumonia. Therefore, general health must be monitored closely.
Many with post-polio syndrome experience the progressive loss of the ability to walk and position themselves, necessitating the use of a specialized power wheelchair. Quantum Rehab®, the global leader in individualized power chairs, puts an emphasis on mobility technologies specific toward the needs of those with post-polio syndrome.
Quantum Power Chairs incorporate power-adjustable seating for user repositioning and comfort; specialty drive controls, including those requiring minimal hand strength; and, a highly-adaptable design to meet an individual’s current and future needs.
Quantum Power Chairs feature the latest advanced technologies to increase the independence of those living with post-polio syndrome. iLevel® seat elevation technology allows a user to operate the power chair at seated or standing height. Bluetooth® is also integrated into Quantum’s Q-Logic 3 electronics, so those with muscular dystrophy can operate much of their environment with the power chair drive control, itself.
For those with post-polio syndrome, Quantum Power Chairs are designed to provide optimal medical comfort and maximum independence. Please click here for more information on Quantum Power Chair solutions for those living with post-polio syndrome.
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