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Post-polio syndrome
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Post-polio syndrome

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Shortly after, vaccines were developed that greatly reduced its spread. Today, hardly anyone in developed countries gets polio, and the disease is well on its way to being eliminated in developing countries, thanks to massive immunization efforts with oral polio vaccine.

But for some people, some of the initial problems they had with polio are reappearing in a condition called post-polio syndrome (PPS). The cause is unknown, but new research is beginning to yield a better understanding of this complex syndrome.

Treatment

Because the signs and symptoms often vary, there's no one specific treatment for PPS. The goal of treatment is to manage your symptoms and make you as comfortable and independent as possible.

  • Energy conservation. This is probably the most important aspect of managing PPS. It involves pacing your physical activity and combining it with frequent rest periods to reduce fatigue. Assistive devices, such as a cane, walker, wheelchair or motor scooter, also can help you conserve energy.

  • Physical therapy. Your doctor or therapist may prescribe exercises for you that strengthen your muscles but don't induce muscle fatigue. These usually include less strenuous activities, such as swimming or water aerobics, that you perform every other day at a relaxed pace. Exercise to maintain fitness is important, but be cautious in your exercise routine and daily activities. Avoid overusing your muscles and joints and attempting to exercise beyond the point of pain or fatigue. Otherwise, you may need several days' rest to regain your strength. A therapist can even show you ways to breathe that help conserve energy.

  • Occupational therapy. A physical or occupational therapist can help you modify your home environment so that it's safe and convenient for you. This may include installation of grab bars in the shower or a raised toilet seat. Your therapist may also help you rearrange your furniture or rethink certain household or work-related tasks in a way that decreases the number of steps you must take and increases your efficiency.

  • Speech therapy. A speech therapist can show you ways to compensate for swallowing difficulties.

  • Sleep apnea treatment. Treatment for sleep apnea, which is common among people with PPS, may involve changing your sleeping patterns, such as avoiding sleeping on your back, or using a device that helps open up a blocked airway.

  • Medications. Medications, including aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, may ease muscle and joint pain. Certain drugs — pyridostigmine (Mestinon), amantadine (Symadine, Symmetrel), methylphenidate (Ritalin), bromocriptine (Parlodel) — have been studied as a treatment for PPS fatigue, but no clear benefit has been shown. Other medications for fatigue may help, such as modafinil (Provigil).

Post-polio syndrome > 1 > 2 > 3 > 4

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