Post-polio syndrome (PPS) is a condition that affects people who have previously had polio. It is estimated that there are currently around 10,000 people in New Zealand who have had polio and may be at risk of developing PPS. In this guide, we will provide information on PPS, its symptoms, and how mobility aids can help.
What is Post-Polio Syndrome?
PPS is a condition that affects people who have had polio, usually after a period of 15-40 years after the initial infection. It is characterised by the onset of new or increased weakness, fatigue, and pain in the muscles that were previously affected by the polio virus. Other symptoms may include joint pain, difficulty breathing, and sleep apnoea.
PPS occurs when the motor neurons that were damaged by the polio virus begin to deteriorate further, leading to muscle weakness and fatigue. This can be exacerbated by overuse of the affected muscles or by other medical conditions, such as arthritis or diabetes.
Symptoms of Post-Polio Syndrome
The symptoms of PPS can vary from person to person and may develop slowly over time. Some of the common symptoms include:
- New or increased muscle weakness or fatigue
- Muscle and joint pain
- Difficulty breathing or swallowing
- Sleep apnoea
- Depression or anxiety
- Difficulty with daily activities
How can Mobility Aids Help?
There are mobility aids that can help people with PPS to maintain their independence and improve their quality of life. Here are some examples:
Wheelchairs: For those with significant mobility impairment, a wheelchair can provide the necessary support to move around safely and comfortably. There are many different types of wheelchairs available, including manual and electric models.
Mobility scooters: Mobility scooters are an alternative to wheelchairs for people with more limited mobility. They are typically used outdoors and can provide greater independence and mobility for those with PPS.
Walking aids: Walking aids, such as canes, crutches, or walkers, can help people with PPS to maintain their balance and stability while walking. They can also reduce the risk of falls and injuries.
Home modifications: Making modifications to the home environment, such as installing grab bars, ramps, or stair lifts, can help people with PPS to maintain their independence and safety at home.
Post-polio syndrome is a condition that affects people who have previously had polio. It can lead to muscle weakness, fatigue, and pain, and can significantly impact a person’s daily life. However, with the help of mobility aids and other support services, people with PPS can maintain their independence and quality of life. If you or a loved one have had polio and are experiencing new or increased muscle weakness or fatigue, it is important to speak to a healthcare professional. They can provide a proper diagnosis and recommend appropriate treatment and support options.